How To Make A Cold Frame

If you are looking for a project for the winter months, you could consider creating a cold frame for use in the spring. A cold frame will come in handy when it comes time to harden off indoors grown plants before placing them in the polytunnel after the spring sunshine arrives. This is a project that can be undertaken with only minimal woodworking skills, and could be a low-cost enterprise – especially if you use reclaimed materials.

For this project, you will need:

- Hammer & nails
- Four pieces of wood/ plyboard to create the solid sides to your structure.
- Four timber uprights & four top pieces, to which to affix your solid sides.
- An old window in its frame, or a piece of plastic, to create the glazed top for your cold frame.
- Hinges to attach the window, or tie wraps to attach the plastic.

The most difficult part of the project is creating the wooden structure, though this can be achieved even if you have never done any DIY projects like this before. First, measure and cut the timbers to create the framing for your cold frame. The base should be square or rectangular, to the size you have decided upon, and the top of the cold store should slope downwards towards the front (which should ideally be positioned to be south facing, and should be in a sheltered position out of strong winds. If you have managed to find an old, reclaimed window to top your structure then this will determine the size of the base.

Once you have created the basic frame, you will be able to fix the solid boards to that frame to add rigidity and strength. If you wish, you can also add insulative material to the inside of that structure. Finally, all you will have to do is add the hinged window (hinges of the higher, back side of the top of the structure), or the rigid plastic (again tied to create a hinge at the back).

With your cold frame in position, you can sit back and wait for the spring to arrive, safe in the knowledge that you will be able to care for your plants effectively when the nicer weather does begin to arrive. Hardening off is key to success when growing plants from seed indoors and moving them to cooler locations. A cold frame will make that job much easier, for plants that will grow in your polytunnel or elsewhere in your garden.

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