When the location was cleared and the vegetation burned off, we moved our bottomless box into position. Once our box was sited and we were happy with its position and orientation, the “Skylight was attached with a set of small hinges that I picked up at the local farm supply store (They have them at hardware stores too, I’m told, but the Farm store often feels like my second home, and they get jealous when they don’t get all my non-grocery expenditures!). In order to mount the hinges I replaced the stock screws with small self tappers to go into the aluminum frame of the shower door, the screws that came with the hinges were used to attach the other side of the hinges to the wooden box. At this point the project is almost complete, just need to fill the box and get things growing!
Almost done, with the smoldering remains of last year’s garden in the back
A few days before undertaking the cold frame project, we had done some clean up in one of our other garden plots. This plot had become the final resting place for a vast array of deceased potted plants, and in all honesty looked more like a landfill than a garden. So, while affecting the cleanup, we had dumped all the potting soil from all these pots into the loader bucket of our tractor. By the time we were done we had a loader full of really good soil, perfect for filling a new cold frame. In keeping with our philosophy of using what we have and not buying unless we have to, we moved the tractor over near the cold frame and moved this soil in. We filled it up almost level with the top of the bottom boards of the box body, to provide plenty of soil depth for winter time root crops like carrots and onions.
The final step for the day was to start some seeds. I am overjoyed by this! In the past, we have done a lot of our germinating on a rolling cart next to a window in our dining room. While this isn’t the worst thing that ever happened, I am very pleased to move this process out of the house, to have an effective place to get seeds going outdoors. We used the remainder of our salvaged potting soil, and some old plant flats and pots for this. The order of the day was to start some water melon and some Sun flower seeds, and by the time we finished we had two flats of each soaking up the early spring sunshine in their warm and protected cold frame.
Mission accomplished! Happy kids, happy dad, happy seeds. All in all it wasn’t a bad afternoons work!
The finished cold frame in its South facing location. Filled with good dirt and with seeds happily germinating inside.
The most important take away lesson from all this is that there is no such thing as junk on a farmstead. I am always amazed at the ways I find to re-purpose old and seemingly useless remnants. Had I not held onto old shower doors and leftover lumber, this project would have cost a bit to complete, as it was it cost me right at 8 bucks for screws and hinges and I have enough screws left to build another one (And I have the other half of the sliding shower doors and enough additional wayward boards to do it with!). So, don’t get rid of anything until you are certain you can’t use it for something, and even then wait at least six months to throw it away in case something comes up!
A cold frame is the perfect scrounger’s DIY project, and a useful addition to your gardening efforts. Properly set up, you can be eating fresh salads, greens, and vegetables most if not all of the winter, and have the perfect place to start your spring plants well before it is safe to plant them outdoors. And, if you have kids it is a great way to get them involved in your self sufficiency program and have a lot of good fun and bonding in the process.
PS: If you’re ready to take your garden to the next level, try this. It’s pretty incredible and easier than you think.