Cold Frame

I have a bad habit of losing focus.  I have so many projects that I need to start, yet I am easily distracted and tend to go off on tangents.  Then, of course, I will rationalize these tangents as I am about to do now.

I have about 600-900 square feet of weed-infested, sloping earth to clean, level and plant.  Not to mention 5 large raised garden beds to build.  So it only stands to reason that this weekend’s project was building a cold frame.

First, the rationalizations.  I’m a bit out of practice, and the frame is small and easy for me to plan and build.  Also, it is built of pressure treated wood – something I’ve never worked with before.  And when I try something new, I like to start small.

And let me just say that pressure treated lumber is quite possibly the oddest construction material I’ve ever dealt with.  It is regular pine wood saturated with water and minerals.  And it feels like it.  It’s incredibly heavy and somewhat slimy.  Fortunately, it’s pretty soft (at least in the early wet, slimy stage), so it was easy to work with.  I made the cold frame from 6″ wide lumber and could barely carry an 8′ length.  I planned for my raised beds to be higher, but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to lug wider (heavier) planks down the hill.

See – It really was a good idea to test it out first.

I designed the cold frame to be very small, as I have very little space in the sunny side of my yard.  It will accommodate one Jiffy 72 plant seed starter, with just a little room to spare.  My original idea was to use one of my old window sashes as a lid, but they are all in such poor shape that I would have had to spend an entire day repairing the window first, and this didn’t seem like a productive use of my time.

Instead, I opted for a wood and plastic lid.  I bought a cheap piece of clear plastic, and used the scrap pieces from my bed project to make the lid frame.  My only cost was the plastic ($1.50), pressure treated lumber for the base ($10), two hinges ($2.50) and a can of bright red paint ($2).

Fortunately, we’ve had a mild winter and there is no imminent threat of heavy snow.  Just in case, I added a layer of old wire mesh under the plastic to support any snow, rain or lounging felines.  My bigger concern is wind, which we have in abundance.  These 12″ walls should offer all the protection my little plants need.

I won’t plant most of my seeds until the 1st of April, but I will start the cold-loving plants in the next week or so.  Just thinking about fresh lettuce in March makes me very happy!

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Update:  2 hours after this snowless post….

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