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Fri Jan 27, 2012, 11:17 PM

Better Living Through Permaculture: Crazy for Cold Frames

Iíve been crazy for cold frames for a couple of years now, and have begun to work them into my permaculture operation. Last winter, I built two out of plywood scavenged from the construction site I worked at, smacked them down in a part of the garden away from the house, filled them with leaf mulch and topsoil, and threw a couple of salvaged storm windows over the top. I planted them in late February with lettuce and spinach, and probably gained 2-3 weeks on the growing season. Hereís a picture of one of them in June:


I learned two valuable lessons through this first project. First, itís not difficult to build an effective cold frame for little to no money. Second, building a cold frame away from the house and exposed to the cold northern winter winds reduces its effectiveness. After I kept these cold frames going through the 2nd lettuce cycle, I dismantled them and spread the soil, compost, and mulch over adjacent garden beds.

Currently, Iím working on a new 2′ x 6′ cold frame against the south-facing wall of my house. Thus far, Iíve only put a sill plate into the concrete wall using masonry nails, with the rest of the frame still not started, but the basic design I have in my head is...


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