Grit Blogs > Freehold Farm

Cheap Ain't Easy

Amanda KempAround the Freehold, my fervor for projects has always outpaced the rate at which our coffers fill. Since I have been unemployed since last September, this has been doubly so. Luckily, as a blackbelt tightwad, I have an extra dose of creativity and an absolute lack of shame about raiding interesting looking trash piles.

In years past, I have always started my plants indoors, crowding them on a table in front of a window. I would suspend an old aquarium light over them. They would create a mess for months in my living room as my dogs bumped the table or my son decided to run his Matchbox cars through them. Finally, the bedraggled survivors would be transplanted into the garden, their survival thus far a testament to their hardiness.

brick cold frame This year, I decided to make cold frames to put the tiny seedlings in after giving them a good start inside. I had windows that I found after putting an announcement on freecycle that I was looking for windows of any size. For a base on this cold frame, I constructed walls made from stacking bricks together without mortar. Once the bricks for our front stoop, they were scavenged when our house burned down. The contractor was going to throw them away. However, my tightwad alarm blared loudly, and visions of a rocket stove danced in my vision. All right, so I didn't end up using them for a rocket stove. And it MAY have taken me five years to finally actually put them to use, but who's counting?

At any rate, the bricks were nice in that they radiated heat that they absorbed during the day. Also, they were repurposed in my front yard to keep mulch in the landscaping.

The lid on the second cold frame is a door I found on the side of the road sporting a sign with my favorite word on it: free. I whipped a screeching U-turn and loaded it in the back of my truck. The base is constructed entirely from wood that a contractor considers to be “scrap” lumber, and my husband dutifully brings home.

Top of cold frame 

Thanks to these cold frames, the survival rate of seedlings has sky-rocketed on the Freehold. Now, what am I going to do with over one hundred tomato plants?

cold farm tomato plants