Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Cold frames

I'm going to start building cold frames today for plot 1, this is my fall winter garden. The rows are all nicely covered in very short grass and such but shouldn't take much to clean up. The high tunnel just needs some love and as the days cool off that will be ready to plant too. This is kind of the highlight of the year for me. I love to grow in the fall and winter. Fer-ikin' love it!

Here is what I found out. In theory you can cover your beds with a fabric cover supported by thick wire hoops, this works okay in very mild conditions but the cold Oklahoma wind makes it challenging to get in and out of to harvest and if it snows or god forbid we get ice, well its history, the hoops cant really handle the weight and the veggies inside can become easily damaged and again its really hard to get in and out of. So none of that this winter. The time to use fabric covers is in feb covering early planted beets and turnips and such just for frost and some bug protection or over wintering carrots. This is what I have come up with after 5 years of trail and error.

This year I am making it easy on myself. 4 cold frames 4X8 and 2 high tunnels 14X8.5X60. I cant wait! last year was such a pain and we lost so much produce. It was heart breaking but a very valuable lesson.

Each cold frame should run about $40 I use Elliot Coleman's design, except for the lid. Glass doesn't give the veggies enough protection from the cold at night and heats up to fast and strong during the day, so I've come up with using instead, a frame made from 2x2s that is literally wrapped in green house plastic so there is a two inch gap between the layers of plastic, this has proven to work extremely well. Its also very light and survives all sorts of weather including large hale and is very easy to replace. The only thing is the lids must be anchored down (i use bricks on each corner) or they will blow off even in light wind.

Here is my material list for 1 cold frame- I use untreated wood but put some cheep scrap wood on the bottom that I can take off and replace every year as it rots and this saves my good lumber for some years. The untreated wood should last 4-5 seasons or longer, you can always oil it.

2- 2x4x12 (for the high end and sides)
1-2x4x8 (for the front) the cold frame slopes
3 2x2x8 (for the lid)
plastic (I'll talk more about that later)

I'll post pictures as we build them today.

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