Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Back Yard Cold Frames

      Most of my pictures and stories about cold frames have been about the frames at Bellevue Park.  Most of the cold frame activity is there, because there is full sun to warm the frames.  My big pin oak near the back yard garden creates a lot of shade even after the leaves have fallen.  Yet it is convenient and fun to have something going in the back yard, so I still have these two frames.

Cold Frames, 11/7/11

Various lettuce plants

      This frame above is one of my first attempts at cold frames.  It was constructed with the salvaged cedar lumber from our old privacy fence.  I still have some pieces from the newer fence that will make another frame.  The three fine leafed plants in a row near the top are frisee, actually a mild flavored chicory that tastes and acts like a lettuce.  The frilly darker green lettuce at the bottom is Tango lettuce, a very delicious and cold hardy variety.  One plant survived on its own outside a cold frame last year.  So it is quite happy living the winter inside a frame.

Made from Trax lumber

      Pictured above is a new frame that my son-in-law Rob helped me build.  It is made from the recycled plastic stuff called Trax.  I thought it would be great because it would not rot.  Yet it is heavy, bends too easily, and screws pull out easily.  As I was putting it together in the driveway, I had it standing up.  But not for long, as it started bending and pulling out screws.  Had to take the ultra heavy thing apart, and move it piece by piece to the back yard.  I was going to put a slider door on top, but that would be too heavy and would probably pull out the screws.  So it is covered with three pieces of single pane glass.  I will pass on any future attempt on using Trax for cold frames.
      At the top of this frame is pak choi, as it can grow pretty tall.  There is a nice red lettuce, scavenged from the compost pile at the park.  On both sides of the red lettuce, are small heads to be of Winter Marvel Bibb lettuce.  They will be so pretty when they have formed.  At the bottom of the picture is tatsoi, a chinese green that forms a rosette that stays close to the ground.  In the bottom right corner is minutina, a very cold tolerant green.  I tortured the plants over the summer by never having taken them from the cell packs where I had started them from seed.  But they survived a summer of neglect, so I thought it only fair that they finally get a spot of their own in the good earth.


  1. Jennifer@threedogsinagarden
    Hi George, Thanks for stopping by my blog. It is nice to have the chance to meet you. Shelties are great dogs aren't they? So smart and easy to train!
    I have been growing flowers for years, but not vegetables. This summer was my first attempt. My results were quite mixed, so I have lots to learn! I don't feel discouraged at all, only more determined.
    I am also new to cold frames, though I have been interested in them for years. I love the idea of keeping my new vegetables and herbs going through the winter.

  2. I thought I lost my spinach, parsley, and lettuce in the greenhouse, but lo and behold the little buggers are still kicking. I wish they would grow a bit more so I could pick them. Thanks for the inspiration, I planted them after seeing your blog.

  3. Thank you both for your stopping by. The cold frames now are in a holding pattern, as day length here has shortened to less than 10 hours, the supposed magic number for good growth. So even if you heated the cold frames or greenhouse, short day length would limit growth. The middle of February will start things again here. I like this site for weather data, you can put in your zip code and a date to figure out your day length: