Stories of life on our farm in Northwest Georgia where every day is an adventure in this beautiful spot that God has entrusted to our stewardship.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Make a Cold Frame for Free (Almost) (Thursday, Sept. 30)

6 old straw bales.  (These have provided seating for multiple hayrides, so we've gotten our money's worth!)
Two old windows.  (These came from Kara's house, so we're repurposing them AND keeping them out of the landfill!)
Four or more empty paper feedsacks.  (If they weren't put to use, we'd compost them; at any rate, they don't go in the garbage.  You could use cardboard or newspaper.)
Two large bags of potting mix.  (This is where our only expense came in.  The cold frame would have been free if we'd had enough of our own compost left or had decent garden soil we could use.)

Making the cold frame is so easy!
Choose a sunny spot in the garden.  Mow the grass to provide a level place and to reduce the amount of grass under the cold frame.
Lay the feed sacks on the ground as indicated with their edges overlapping.  Water them thoroughly until they lay flat and are completely soaked.  They will kill the grass underneath and keep it from sprouting up into the coldframe.
Place four straw bales as follows:

One bale at each end and one on each side of the feed sacks, as illustrated.  Overlap the bales slightly at the corners.

I want my cold frame facing south (just as solar panel installers do).  So on the north side of the cold frame, place the last two bales on top of the bottom one.  Stagger them so they meet in the middle of the bottom bale.  The two outside corners will stick out beyond the bottom bale, but the main part of each upper bale will still be adequately supported.
Add two bags of potting soil on top of the feed sacks, level, and tamp down.  Water throughly.

Sow seeds or plant transplants.  (I put in the sturdiest beet, broccoli, brussels sprouts and arugula seedlings that I thinned from my main beds.  If they don't take, I'll sow some arugula.  If they get too tall, I'll add another level of straw bales.)

Place windows at an angle between the high bales and the low one.

When rain is predicted, I'll uncover the cold frame to reduce the need for watering.  Our nights aren't that chilly yet, but I'm going to leave it in place for now as an experiment.  This is my first time to use a cold frame, and I want to see how it does.


  1. Great idea!

  2. Have you guys ever made one? I know you're much more experienced gardeners than I am.


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