Life Begins in the Garden: Cold Frame Gardening

By Sarah Leitzel

There’s a bite in the air as it hits my face early in the morning, the sun peeking through the fall mist to the east. As I harvest the last of my Swiss Chard and the final planting of sweet snap peas, I plan my late fall and early winter garden. I can do so by turning my raised wooden garden beds into cold frames. I found some free old windows that someone was discarding on a local sell and swap site. They are perfect for placing over the wooden bed frames to retain heat as the temperature drops, extending my growing season. I’ll add some compost that will further retain heat so I can enjoy spinach and lettuce, radishes and green onions into the winter. Even as light snow falls, I’ll brush it off the windows to let light in on my young tender plants. A cold frame can also be built with bricks or concrete blocks or even hay bales, sometimes with the north edge of the window raised to capture the heat of the sun from the south as it rises overhead. If there is a particularly warm day, be careful to monitor the temperature inside so as not to fry the plants and prop the window up a crack if need be.

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