Make a Garden Cold Frame for Free

Do You Need a Cold Frame in the Garden?

It all depends on the weather, how much you raise from seed and how much you garden. Oh and whether you already have a greenhouse or poly-tunnel!

  • In dry or windy climates it can be very difficult to get seed trays to remain moist enough for the seeds to germinate.
  • In cold climates a cold frame can give you a head-start at germinating plants which the soil outside is too cold or frost prone for.
  • In very wet climates a cold frame can provide somewhere tranquil where seeds won’t be disturbed by the rains.
  • In winter the cold frame can be used to house potted plants such as cacti and succulents. Where they are protected from the worst of the weather.

So generally, if you do much gardening a cold frame is a very handy thing indeed.  But they can be expensive.

If you are a diy enthusiast you may wish to make a small scale greenhouse from wooden battens covered in glass or strong polythene.  But if you’re not that great with an electric drill do not despair.  A cold frame can be an altogether more simple affair.

How to Make a Cold Frame

At its most basic a cold frame is just somewhere for seed trays and pots to get some protection from the elements.  So you need something to contain those trays and pots plus some roof to keep the temperature up and allow light in.

Over the years we’ve had various make shift versions of brick sides with plastic or glass resting on top to allow light in.  It does not need to be permanent so the bricks can just be stacked two or three high in a rough rectangle shape.

Use whatever you have to hand – concrete blocks, wood or bricks.  Glass can be bought very cheaply direct from glaziers.  But, often when people are having new windows fitted it can be salvaged for free.

very basic cold frame

Our current cold-frame is literally an old wooden drawer from the village dump.  Placed on top are two window panes salvaged from a friend’s garden.  It’s all we need.  The wooden drawer holds all the pots and trays in place and the glass keeps the whole thing light and warm.

As the weather warms the glass can be moved to allow more ventilation.

So if you want a cold-frame do not just think of  it needing to be complicated to construct (particularly, if like me you are not a fan of woodwork).  Think a little more laterally and you may find you can lay your hands on the makings of your own cold frame for very little effort.

Remember to Make a Cold Frame you need:

  • Some sides at least 6″ tall, solid or clear.
  • A top of clear plastic or glass.

That’s all there is to it!

I would love an old Victorian iron cold frame resembling Crystal Palace.  But, I don’t see anyone discarding one anytime soon.  In the meantime all we need is a frame to hold seed trays and some glass to warm them up.  So that’s what we’ve got and it was free.

And yes, the seed trays were all free too – just collect plastic and polystyrene trays from friends to recycle yourself.   The beauty of the proliferation of the green movement is that you can seem to scrounge supplies for ecological rather than just monetary reasons!

For a more self sufficient future

2 Responses to “Make a Garden Cold Frame for Free”

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  1. Thanks for the info! Great post.

  2. hgutr says:

    great post!