Roanoke Revealed

Building a cold frame

Building a cold frame

As I delved into the cold frame project (figuring two hours to completion bliss), carefully planned productivity morphed into challenges. My new power tools were on the ready along with a video tutorial I figured I could fudge and still make work. Most of my time, though, was spent prepping recently removed windows and carting bricks from my chosen spot. In the end, I was six inches short on the last board (didn’t plan that one out well either), and had to postpone completion for another day.

Of course, I tend to build like I cook – winging it. Tasting, surveying and adding (or fixing) as I go along usually works to help create a masterpiece – until it doesn’t. I learned to use screws a long time ago (they’re a lot easier to back out than nails) and have become a bit careful about adding things like curry or garlic or wine to food without tasting along the way.

My DIY cold frame ingredients

  • Three 10-foot-long 1 X 6s (for my second attempt, I had Lowe’s cut them to exact dimensions for the front & back boards).
  • The shorest 2 X 4 I could find (90-something inches – extended into the front seats, but fit in the car)
  • 4 hinges (two for each window)
  • Screws – I like the coated ones. If you’re going through hard lumber (I bought on the cheap with pine for the first attempt), star heads and bits (or more complex configurations) are much better than standard phillips solutions.
  • Power tools (circular saw, drill/screw driver) – missing a mitre saw, which ultimately proved critical.
  • Two old windows (approximately 30 X 30 inches each)
  • A couple of dowels to open the box when the sun shines
  • Bricks & window handles (optional)
  • a thermometer
Cold frame construction tips at

Still needs a coat of paint.

My major missing tool was a mitre saw. Unless you’re really handy with a circular saw, this omission will make it a lot a harder to get clean seams plus add additional challenges in getting the back window hinges to work easily. My next attempts will include caulk and a mitre saw (or professional).

So, what I have is a little alcove that protects potted plants from heavy rains and frost. The temperature inside isn’t much warmer than outside at night – it gets hot quickly when the sun shines.

If you want to do it right (personally, I have more fun learning the hard way), here’s a great video that will serve yo well if you follow it better than I did.

Take the first shot at your masterpiece. Then, call me (or send an e-mail) if you’d rather have someone grow produce for you. Find updates on what’s started and/or ready for harvesting at Halcyon Acres.

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