Thursday, April 19, 2012

Cold Frame

     I taught a gardening class at our home Tuesday night (April 17) for the Relief Society sisters. There were about 15 sisters who attended, counting Linda. I think it was a pretty sneaky way to get Linda out to a Relief society activity. I taught the basics of gardening in Western Washiington's maritime climate. This included an explanation of our leached out soils, deficient in both calcium and phosphorus, and our lack of summer heat which makes the USDA zone chart irrelevant for many vegetable crops. I suggested they focus on growing things that work really well in our climate such as beets, carrots, cabbage, potatoes, green beans, etc for vegetables and blueberries and raspberries for fruit.  I also suggested they consider buying seeds from local companies that sell seeds that are better adapted for our climate, such a Territorial Seeds. I tried to keep it relatively simple.  I passed around one of my jars of fresh (not canned) sauerkraut for people to sample. The fresh sauerkraut seemed to be well received and I may have inspired someone to try making it.   One sister asked if she could copy the recipe I use from "Stocking Up".

    The class was originally supposed to be held out doors but the weather was not cooperative. I had rushed to complete my new cold frame for this occasion so I could use it to demonstrate how to extend the season or get a head start on vegetables that need more heat than we normally get.  I've wanted to make a decent cold frame for a long time.  I had intended to recycle our old bathroom shower door to use in the new cold frame, but Linda accidentally broke it.  It really is just as well. If it broke that easily, then it wasn't really suitable.  Instead I used some double wall plastic panels that I had down at the bee store.  We had used them to make a solar wax melter several years ago. I don't know why I didn't think of using that sooner.  It is so much lighter and probably is a lot more energy efficient than the old shower door.  The door may be light enough with the plastic panels for glazing that I may be able to install automatic vents. I intend to use the cold frame for starting plants in the spring and possibly for some extended season salad vegetables in the fall. That way my new starts will get plenty of light (not so spindly) and won't be bugging Linda in her living room.  Even when I started plants in the living room while Linda was in China, they still didn't get enough light. All the new cold frame needs now is a little weather stripping and it will be ready to go.

My new cold frame 
     The cold frame is built from wood salvaged from our former front deck.  I had done a partial repair job some time in the past five years and had used treated wood. The rebuilt portion of the old deck was ok, but the rest of it was slowly crumbling. It seemed a good use for the relatively new treated wood.  I would actually like to make a few more of them so I could have a serious winter garden. There is enough salvaged wood left for two more cold frames. Maybe I'll have some time to do that this summer after I get and arbor gate and a fence built for the front yard.


  1. You made a cold frame?! I've been thinking about making one, too. And I'm wondering how my family would like fresh kraut...

    1. I would be happy to give you some fresh kraut so you could try it out on your family. This year I would like to buy a few more of the clamp seal jars with the rubber gaskets. Then I could expand my lacto-fermentation into other vegetables like green beans or beets.

  2. Your cold frame looks awesome! Come build me one! :)