The Q&A Archives: Plans for Cold Frames

Question: Do you have any flyers or can you recommend a book that would give me instructions for building a good cold frame for my area? Our winters can be extremely cold, often below zero, and our growing season is relatively short. I'd like to be able to start my own seed and give seedlings a good headstart before putting them out in the weather.

Answer: Your county agricultural extension office (ph# 970/498-7400) should be able to provide you with a low-cost bulletin on building and using cold frames. Your library may have a copy of Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Gardening and Landscaping Techniques (Rodale Publishing, ISBN# 0-87857-898-6, which has plans for many different types of frames. Cold frames are best used for starting growing cold-season crops once they've germinated (brassicas, lettuce, etc.) and for hardening off seedlings. Tender crops (tomatoes, peppers, melons, etc.) are best started in place where the temperature won't drop below 50F. A grow-light fixture hung over a table is a good place to start these, and then you can ease them out of the "tropics" of your home with the cold frame. Enjoy!

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