A Guide to Using a Cold Frame

Cold frames are a brilliant addition to any garden. They are simple yet incredibly effective. Ours are naturally some of the best available on the market and are made from sustainably sourced and treated European pine with safe, Plexiglass glazing and an open bottom so they can be used anywhere. Cold frames have one or two windows that prop open for ventilation – ours come with two. Cold frames are brilliant for all gardeners but can be especially useful if you are short on space and don’t have room for a full greenhouse – cold frames work in much the same way. As ever, it’s important to buy the best you can (like ours!), so you buy less often. In other words, investing now means you will have a sturdy and reliable cold frame for years to come that won’t need to be replaced after a couple of years.

 

Cold Frame

 

Cold frames are easy to move around the garden. You can use them directly on the earth as a kind of giant cloche, or you can pop them next to your house on a paving flag. Siting them next to the house often means they benefit from the heat that escapes and this can be more than useful to seedlings looking for a little more warmth. If you use them in a raised bed, they also help to warm the soil. Really, cold frames are super useful in all sorts of ways.

 

Overwintering

You can also use a cold frame to overwinter more tender plants. You can insulate your cold frame with bubble wrap or horticultural fleece then keep temperatures just that bit warmer. Similarly, growing carrots, and spinach in a cold frame right throughout winter can result in a nice crop that other growers can only dream of.

 

Starting Seedlings Off and Hardening

You can sow early veggies and half-hardy annuals that like a good cold start like sweet peas under a cold frame. Rather than waiting for the spring to warm up, a cold frame lets you get ahead of the game. Once spring has properly sprung, you can use the cold frame to give annuals and baby veg a helping hand in their early days. You can also use a cold frame to harden off seedlings. Some seeds are better started off on a sunny windowsill, these are the ones to introduce to the outside world more slowly – and a cold frame is ideal for this.

 

Extending the Season

As well as getting started on planting for the following year, you can also use your cold frame to extend the growing season. With the protection offered by the cold frame from early frosts and pests, there are all sorts of veggies out there that will crop throughout the winter if grown under a cold frame. Leeks, spinach, carrots and some winter salad leaves will take you right through to the following year. Get them started in the summer and keep sowing.

 

Do remember to use the prop windows on sunny days or during spells of warmer weather otherwise those carrots will be cooked before you can harvest them.