17 September 2008

recycled cold frame

cold frame construction is as complicated as you make it. my plans simplified once i realized that the purpose is to warm the soil and block wind. i was wondering if i needed to bury the sides into the earth, and if so, how far? but i spoke with an experienced local gardener/farmer and she assured me that i just needed to place the box on top of the soil, tilt the windows toward the south, and that should do the trick. then my plans got complicated when i realized how tall a broccoli plant gets (about two feet!). my salvaged windows were dictating the width and depth of my box, and the broccoli was determining the height, but when i got the whole thing put together, out of these honkin' 2"x 8" and 2"x 12" boards, it looked like a tunnel, or a large, narrow coffin-- the place where all good plants go to die. i took one look at it, once it was all screwed together and flipped over, and cried, "i can't grow plants in there!" i put the windows on anyway, and couldn't deny it had rather striking form, (i didn't think to photograph it) but it was still not a suitable place for a winter garden. the whole point is to maximize sunlight, and the tall sides would have shaded the plants. i should have remembered from architecture school, the importance of building a model. sometimes it is the only way to clearly visualize what you're building, before you build it.

i considered burying the lower half of it, to make it shorter that way, but soon came to my senses, and decided that taking off a row of 2"x 12" boards would solve the problem. it was easy enough to do that, and then i set the shorter structure on a row of bricks i had salvaged from another demolition site. i am pretty sure that what i have now will work just fine, and i rather like the look of the old paint on the brick.

as it turns out, almost everything was recycled, salvaged or reused. the hinges are from some old cabinet doors, carl spotted them at a flea market in gnaw bone. i bought one long, two-by-four, and those huge boards i took off the cold frame had been purchased as new lumber. i'll turn those into a sturdy shelf to hold all those home-canned goodies we've been squirreling away (see my other blog for more on that).

i've been covering the broccoli and kale with floating row cover, to keep the cabbage moths from laying eggs on them. i had been pulling dozens of those green cabbage worms off of the half eaten leaves, every time i took a look at them. my summer kale was completely demolished by those guys. the cover is not pretty, but it does seem to work.


Stacy said...

Great post! I forwarded it along to my hubby in hopes to inspire him to build me one too! We'll see! :)

Teresa R said...

You know, I'm starting to think you're related to my family. ;)

Dh made cold frames out of old windows from our previous house. We used them for a while...on top of bare soil. Now, we have a greenhouse, at long last! It's been wonderful (and we're giving away the cold frames to a friend).

Signe said...

Good work. This cold frame was smart.