Saturday, November 5, 2011

New Cold Frame

      Last year's cold frame effort was put together in a hurry, out of cold necessity.  The frames were mainly panes of glass that leaned upon only one board.  With the bottom edge of the glass resting on the ground, there was very little headroom inside the frames for the veggies, so they often touched the glass.  Mistake, as the plants will freeze right to the glass.

Last year's quick and dirty cold frames, 2/15/11

Two frames invisible in the middle, 2/6/11

Bellevue, 3/22/11

Cold frame harvest, 3/22/11

      The lesson learned from last year is that the cold frames work, as proven by the late March harvest pictured above.  So before it gets too cold to work outside this year, I decided to upgrade the frames.

Freshly seeded ground, 9/21/11

      The photo above shows the 18 foot stretch of 2 by ten lumber that I used as a starter for the new frame. 
      On  9/21/11 I planted in Bed #6 from East to West: two foot block GWD 2011 Arugula, then 8 inch swaths of Fedco winter marvel bibb lettuce, Fedco Rouge D'Hivre romaine lettuce, Livingsone baby romaine, GWD 2011 red sails lettuce, Fedco tango lettuce, GWD 2011 four seasons lettuce, and Phil's 2011 Lush Arugula.  The baby romaine and Phil's arugula failed to germinate, but everything else has done spectacularly as shown in some of the following photos.

Project start, 11/3/11

      This shot shows the veggies just mentioned above, the ones planted from seed directly to the bed on 9/21/11.  The sowing in question starts with the red and green lettuce just to the left of the left pane, and extends to the right pane with the fine patch of arugula.  The toughest part of the new project was getting started.  To get off the thinking stage, the safe stage where nothing is screwed up.  Then you have to move on to the construction phase where all sorts of things can go wrong.  Adding to the fun is working alone with only two hands to get things lined up and straight, and level, and at right angles, oh, and cut to proper lengths.  All saw cuts had to be made at home and carted to the park, where hopefully they would fit together properly.
      In order to get some extra height on the back board, I added an extra run of 2 x 4's on the bottom.  On the bottom because I am using non treated lumber to avoid any nasty chemicals.  The boards in contact with the soil will rot more quickly, so it will be cheaper to replace the 2 x 4's rather than the 2 x 10's.  The windows are double paned for extra insulation, and hinges were added at the sides so that the windows can fold directly back on the adjacent one.  That allows for easy harvesting from the paths on either side of the beds.  The windows are 32" tall, so it is an easy pick from either side.

Well along in construction, 11/4/11

      At the moment I have only four windows, so the far left of this frame currently has two of the single pane panels.  But even they look good on top of their new frame.  The front wall of the frame are 2 x 4's, one stacked on top of another.  The windows thus slope downward to let in the winter sun which will be low in the sky.

Lettuce and Arugula, 11/4/11

      Added incentive to get this project going was the forecast low of 32 degrees for last night.  While that would not hurt these greens, I felt better knowing they would be warmer.  I am pretty happy with the results.

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