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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Our finished box. Don’t forget to stand around it and admire.
Position the window on top.
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.
Drill holes at the pencil marks making sure not to drill too far to break the glass.
Place your hinge.
Screw the top of each of the hinges.
Predrill and screw the bottom half each of the hinges.
Mark the handle screw holes with pencil.
Transfer the pencil marks into the wood by pressing the handle into place.
Drill holes at the mark and screw in the screws.
Place your cold frame in a location where it can get the most sun. A spot that slopes toward the south is ideal.
Prepare your soil and begin planting!