Ask a Question forum: PNW: Do I need a cold frame if I have these other components?

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Name: Toukow
(Zone 8a)
toukow
Jul 21, 2016 8:37 AM CST
Hello: I’m somewhat new to gardening and have jumped in with both feet which leads to my question. I live in the Pacific NW and I wanted to get some input on the need for a cold frame, given the other garden components which I’ve constructed.

Prior to retiring several months ago, I built this greenhouse. I had a 90-gallon aluminum boat water tank which I’m trying to use for solar heating shown at the bottom, and have tilted it back to catch maximum rays during March-April in the Seattle area.

After retiring I also modified a design which I found online for raised beds and constructed five raised beds. I have installed the PVC supports to allow hoops and plastic to be installed on each bed. These beds hold over 3 cubic yards each, half of which is poor soil from my property on the bottom along with chicken wire for moles, and the top half is soil I had delivered. I was glad I had a tractor with front end loader to fill them!!!

I purchased a new double pane window 48” x 105” off of Craigslist for $100 and have almost everything else needed to build a cold frame, and hence my question- Since the raised planters have the PVC hoop provisions and I can turn them into mini-greenhouses, do I need a cold frame after all? The only advantages that comes to mind are 1. the soil in a cold frame would not have the amount of exposure to lower ambient temperatures that the raised beds would experience, especially given the use of the corrugated metal for the sides; 2. The glass would obviously be better in reducing heat loss.

Given our relatively mild winters, I’m unclear of the benefits of a cold frame in this situation. Am I missing something? Your comments appreciated, Toukow

Thumb of 2016-07-21/toukow/9572ac


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Toukow
Maple Valley, WA
Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
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DaisyI
Jul 21, 2016 2:24 PM CST
Welcome! to NGA

Technically, a cold frame is an enclosed, unheated area for extending seasons. Between your greenhouse and your hoophouses, I think you have it covered.

Daisy
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
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Weedwhacker
Jul 21, 2016 7:50 PM CST
Welcome to NGA, @toukow !

Your raised beds with the low tunnels over them will essentially function as "cold frames." Be sure to allow for ventilation, even in very cold weather they can collect a lot of heat on a sunny day.

"Blessed is he who has learned to laugh at himself, for he shall never cease to be entertained."
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Name: Toukow
(Zone 8a)
toukow
Jul 22, 2016 8:23 AM CST
Thanks to you both for the input, and you have saved me a lot of labor!! Now to sell that very large window.....Take care, Toukow
Toukow
Maple Valley, WA
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Jul 22, 2016 6:53 PM CST
Hi Toukow! Welcome to NGA and gardening!

I agree: with your greenhouse and low hoop tunnels, you already have what you NEED ...

... until you FILL that greenhouse to overflowing.

Based on the Greenhouse forum and other things I read, that usually takes 1/2 season to 1/2 year, no matter how big the greenhouse is.

So you won't need that coldframe ... until you go quite crazy and expand like the early Universe after the Big Bang.

I was going to say: you already paid for the glass and for shipping it - why not store it outdoors at an angle, propped up on some wooden boards, perhaps screwed in place using some hinges on the upper wall ... then you can always use it to hold "a few extra trays of seedlings" ... or "a few dozen extra trays of seedlings" ... or "those 300 seedlings I wanted to grow out a little more before donating them the church sale" ... just IN CASE you happen to contract a serious case of gardening eagerness.

They can also be used to overwinter things you don't want in your living room, if they are short enough or you can heel them over.

Cold frames and outdoor seedbeds are the classic, old-school approach, like "flats of seedlings and pricking out" instead of the factory-approach propagation trays with small rectangular cells and exactly 1.0 seedlings in each cell.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
Image
RickCorey
Jul 22, 2016 6:57 PM CST
When I saw your small raised beds clustered together (nice approach, and nice-looking raised beds!), I was reminded of a book I read by some Mainiacs (people living in Maine, not unusually-psyched). They grew outdoors all winter. In Maine.

Their secret was "layering", with floating row covers, plus low hoop tunnels, all inside a high hoop house. They figured that each layer gained them something like 5-10 degrees F at the cold point of the night. They hit a wall when they plants were OK on heat, but never saw enough photons to do any growing! They went into a holding pattern.

Anyway, seeing your raised beds made me think of each one with some floating row cover, or else the smallest, lowest PVC hoops that would work: perhaps with their PVC feet INside the bed instead of OUTside as would usually make more sense (get the soil warm during the day and it will heat the air inside all night).

Call either of those "Layer One".

But then put one BIG hoop house over all four beds! Now you could walk into it, close the door, and then uncover the small beds one at a time as needed. And according to the fresh-lettuce-for-market-all-winter Mainiacs, you could get up to twice the warmth.

P.S. If you put your approximate location and other info into "Your Public Profile", they will appear on every post you make (upper right-hand corner). I think it's cool that each time you update those fields in your profile, every post you've ever made is updated with the new info!

"Your Public Profile" is reached through the "head-and-shoulders" icon at the top of the far-left blue menu bar.

There's a more complicated process for putting info into your signature block, below each post.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Jul 22, 2016 7:02 PM CST
Interesting walls on those beds! Fiberglas or corrugated metal?

You really did jump in with both feet, if you've been gardening fewer than 5 years!

If the big closet-sized thing is your whole greenhouse, I think you might want that cold frame for small plants plus another tall hoop house for big plants, sooner rather than later.

Really, look at the "Greenhouse" forum to see how many people finally got their very first greenhouse, and sized it "to meet their needs" - until they used it for one year, then wanted one 3-5 times bigger. And those who got them, filled them!

P.S. I forgot to invite you to join the PNW forum. We try to cover the western PNW as well as coastal. It isn't always very active, but we're nice people.

http://garden.org/forums/view/pacificnorthwestgard/

This forum: "Pacific Coast Gardening forum"
http://garden.org/forums/view/pacificcoast/
used to be mostly California. I see their new blurb is:
"Coastal Oregon, Washington, and California, although members from Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico, and the Pacific Asian countries (and anywhere else) are also welcome."


[Last edited by RickCorey - Jul 22, 2016 7:06 PM (+)]
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Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Jul 22, 2016 7:08 PM CST
So Rick, Is there a word limit? Or do you think and type really fast? Smiling
Name: Karen
NM , AZ (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Region: Arizona Greenhouse Cactus and Succulents Adeniums Garden Art
Plumerias Hibiscus Houseplants Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Dog Lover Cat Lover
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plantmanager
Jul 22, 2016 7:10 PM CST
I think he thinks and types verrrrrrry fast! Rolling on the floor laughing
Handcrafted Coastal Inspired Art SeaMosaics!
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Jul 22, 2016 7:15 PM CST
I know that NO ONE here will believe it, but I CAN type short messages. It just takes me 10-20 times as long to edit it down several times, then split it up, then discard all but one piece.

When I first truly realized that people read this site on CELL PHONES, I almost had an aphasic episode. Just thinking about trying to respond to a post with fewer than five paragraphs made my brain freeze up like a birdbath in Maine in December.

Mea culpa! If you wear out your "Page Down" key, I owe you a new keyboard.

Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
Seed Starter Vegetable Grower Birds Butterflies Dog Lover Cat Lover
Image
Weedwhacker
Jul 22, 2016 7:22 PM CST
"Really, look at the "Greenhouse" forum to see how many people finally got their very first greenhouse, and sized it "to meet their needs" - until they used it for one year, then wanted one 3-5 times bigger. And those who got them, filled them!"

LOL, I'm afraid Rick is right about this! (well, he's right about a lot of stuff... but right now, this in particular)

My Rion is 8x16; when I got it about 12 years ago I really wasn't sure how I wanted to use it, other than for starting seedlings in (or, more accurately, continuing to grow seedlings started under lights -- I don't start putting anything out in the GH until mid-April, it would just require too much heating where I am to be practical. I do heat with propane when necessary after mid-April, though.) So, the way we set it up was really for that purpose, and then I also store a lot of my gardening supplies in big Rubbermaid totes underneath the shelves. More recently I've discovered how much of an advantage an unheated GH can be for putting plants in the ground much earlier than normal; this year (for the first time) I put tomato plants that I started from seed about a month earlier than I normally do, in the ground inside a hoophouse on April 29th (I usually plant my tomatoes around June 1st), and I believe I could have put them out 2 weeks earlier; as it was, we had temps that went below freezing, but inside the unheated hoophouse my plants thrived and are way ahead of any of the others that I have outside. So, my hope is that this fall -- or maybe next year, I tend to overestimate how quickly things will happen -- we can take down the Rion (which is slowly disintegrating at this point) and replace it with a 16x20' hoophouse where I can grow seedlings in the area formerly occupied by the Rion, and grow plants in the ground in the remainder of the space. Who knows -- maybe I'll even have room for a little table and a couple of chairs where we can enjoy a pitcher of margaritas on a sunny winter day!

If I decide I need to go larger than that, I'll probably just cover my entire 25x80' garden and be done with it! (or, wait! we have lots more yard available... Rolling on the floor laughing
"Blessed is he who has learned to laugh at himself, for he shall never cease to be entertained."
- John Powell / Cubits.org - A Universe of Communities
/ Share your recipes: Favorite Recipes A-Z cubit
C/F temp conversion / NGA Member Map
Name: Karen
NM , AZ (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Region: Arizona Greenhouse Cactus and Succulents Adeniums Garden Art
Plumerias Hibiscus Houseplants Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Dog Lover Cat Lover
Image
plantmanager
Jul 22, 2016 7:31 PM CST
Ha, my little 15ft dome greenhouse made me very happy a year ago when we finished it. Now I realize how small it is, and how fast everything grows! I'm continually cutting things back, trying to hold the growth down. I need another much bigger greenhouse!
nodding
Handcrafted Coastal Inspired Art SeaMosaics!
Name: Jay
Nederland, Texas (Zone 9a)
Region: Texas Region: Gulf Coast Charter ATP Member I helped beta test the first seed swap I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Tip Photographer Garden Sages Garden Ideas: Master Level Hibiscus
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Horntoad
Jul 22, 2016 7:32 PM CST
DaisyI said:So Rick, Is there a word limit? Or do you think and type really fast? Smiling


Well at least this time he broke it up into three separate post. Rolling on the floor laughing
wildflowersoftexas.com
texasnatureonline.com


Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
Image
RickCorey
Jul 22, 2016 7:47 PM CST
Darn, Jay, you noticed! I was trying to sneak them in a little at a time.

I guess you can tell that work finally got quieter. We were pushing hard to clean something up that an auditor had made dire threats about, last time. He was MUCH happier this time. He said we had improved a LOT.

Apparently then he said a slightly more polite version of: "You still stink, but not as badly."
From reports, it was not unlike Mel Brooks saying "No kiddin' , dey stink on ice!"

We took it as a big victory. I thought he was going to come back, look closely, and say: "Yes, I have to shoot you now."

Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
Seed Starter Vegetable Grower Birds Butterflies Dog Lover Cat Lover
Image
Weedwhacker
Jul 22, 2016 7:55 PM CST
Rolling on the floor laughing
(I think I got the same report from my dentist about flossing...)
"Blessed is he who has learned to laugh at himself, for he shall never cease to be entertained."
- John Powell / Cubits.org - A Universe of Communities
/ Share your recipes: Favorite Recipes A-Z cubit
C/F temp conversion / NGA Member Map
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
Image
RickCorey
Jul 22, 2016 7:59 PM CST
It's the quiet regret in their voices that makes an impression on me.

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