Grit Blogs > Life and Adventures at Diamond W Ranch

Quick, Easy and Cheap Cold Frame

By Jacqueline Wilt, R.N., C.E.M.T.


Tags: Cold Frame, Garden, Straw Bales, Spring, Gardening, Early Planting, DIY, Jacqueline Wilt,

Life and Adventures at Diamond W RanchWe have decided to try using a cold frame this year to get an early start on our vegetable gardening. My father-in-law had some old sliding glass doors sitting in his shed, so we retrieved those and brought them home. Then we scored a great deal on straw from a neighbor ($2 per bale). Using these materials, we were able to very quickly assemble a temporary cold frame to try our hand at early garden planting.

The site we are going to use is not level, but since the ground is still frozen we were unable to level it up just yet. We will let the cold frame warm the ground up and then will work on leveling the area out. The straw bales were arranged in a square, making sure they would accommodate the glass doors we had to place on top.

Doug measures the bales to ensure proper distance to place the glass on. 

Doug measures the bales to ensure proper distance to place the glass on.

The glass was pretty dirty, so those were washed with vinegar and water. I made an exception to my "I don't do windows" rule. Doug made sure there were photos to prove it.

I don't usually do windows, so Lizzie made sure I did it correctly. 

I don't usually do windows, so Lizzie made sure I did it correctly.

Even the chickens had to inspect the whole process.

This curious hen had to find out what was going on! 

This curious hen had to find out what was going on!

After we got it all put together, they all climbed on top of the straw bales and gleefully tossed straw all over the glass! We were busy cleaning the barn at the time, so I missed getting photographs!

We were able to put this whole thing together in about 30 minutes (including window-washing time!) and the only cost was $16 for eight straw bales. Not bad!

Finished cold frame. Still need to level it out. 

Finished cold frame. Still need to level it out.

The site really needs to be leveled out, as you can tell the glass panels are not level. An important aspect of a cold frame is to seal the cold out. We placed a thermometer inside the bales to watch the temperature. Our plan is to break the ground under the cold frame once the ground has been warmed a bit. Then we will add composted soil from our barn and plant seeds once everything is in place. More on that as it happens! Keep checking back to see how it is coming along!

nebraskadave
3/1/2015 9:00:37 AM

Jacqueline, that's a great easy way to not only warm up the soil earlier but to have for starting plants earlier. My seed starting is done in the basement under grow lights but I might have to consider this as well. Such an easy project to do and so portable. I'll definitely be following your progress with this project. ***** Have a great easy cold frame day.


johndeerefan52
2/28/2015 6:14:24 AM

So I'm wondering... rather than working to level the ground, what about starting plants in containers? I have an old pallet and some broken sections of cinder blocks that I could use to level it, and then put the containers on top? Does this type of set up stay warm enough to keep everything heated up?