Do it Yourself (but invite friends) Cold Frame

Photos by Gabe Green | Published: May 19, 2015

To combat the cold winter, building a cold frame – a winter gardening box – will help provide a place for leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach, beets and arugula during the colder months of the year. This one cost approximately $100 to build.

Gather Your Supplies
What you need:

First, start with the purchase or acquisition of a window. The window size will determine how big to make your cold frame. An electric drill, preferably two, one to pre­drill holes and a second to screw. A tape measure, pencil and glue. Wood screws that are at least 2 1⁄2” long. You will need 16 to screw in the battens and an additional 16 to screw the corners together. Two hinges (with six 1” screws) and a handle. Wood – we used cedar because it is rot resistant and untreated. If you are planting edibles, you want to stay away from chemicals.

Step One
Measure your window and the thickness of your wood. A 2×6 actually measures about 1 1⁄2 by 5 1⁄2 because of the shrinkage in the wood during the drying process. The thickness of your wood will account for space on one of the sides making it 3” shorter than the measured distance on each end. (1 1⁄2” x 2). We made our cold frame two boards high, or 11” tall.

Step two
Install battens to hold the two boards together and to reinforce the corners. We simply used our end cuts. We placed the corners together (as seen in the photo) and marked the placement of each batten.

Step three
Pre­drill holes to prevent cracking the wood and screw in the screws. A friend or two makes the process go quickly. Repeat for all four corners.

Step four
Friends are good for holding all the pieces together. We found the optimum number of people was four: two to hold, one to drill and one to set the screws. We also placed the window atop the frame to line up the corner angles, just in case this old frame wasn’t quite square.

Step five
Our finished box. Don’t forget to stand around it and admire.

Step six
Position the window on top.

Step seven
Line up the hinges on the long side. Be sure that the hinge is in line with the crack between the frame and window. Mark each hole with a pencil.

Step eight
Drill holes at the pencil marks making sure not to drill too far to break the glass.

Step nine
Place your hinge.

Step ten
Screw the top of each of the hinges.

Step eleven
Pre­drill and screw the bottom half each of the hinges.

Step twelve
Mark the handle screw holes with pencil.

Step thirteen
Transfer the pencil marks into the wood by pressing the handle into place.

Step fourteen
Drill holes at the mark and screw in the screws.

Step fifteen
Place your cold frame in a location where it can get the most sun. A spot that slopes toward the south is ideal.

Step sixteen
last one!
Prepare your soil and begin planting!