Cold Frame v. Greenhouse - Knowledgebase Question

Norwalk, IA
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Question by bchurchill
February 12, 1998
What is the difference between a cold frame and a greenhouse. Is there advantage to have one over the other?

Answer from NGA
February 12, 1998
It all depends on what you need. Gardeners use cold frames to extend the growing season on either end. They're used to grow cold-hardy seedlings, to "harden-off" seedlings (that is, to help them get used to the elements after being pampered indoors), and to overwinter cold-hardy vegetables such as greens. Cold frames tend to be small structures on the ground in a warm, sunny spot, usually against the side of a building.

I think of a greenhouse as a structure you can walk into and workinside. You can modify temperatures and humidity inside a greenhouse so you can grow almost anything you want year round, or, on the other extreme, it can be a low-tech structure that serves the same functions as a cold frame. The Gardener's Supply Co. website ( features cold frames, greenhouses and other season extending items - the images may help you understand the uses better than all my words! Hope this helps!

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