If you love gardening, it’s always sad to see fall set in and your harvest of fresh fruits and vegetables put on hold for another winter. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Cold frames can give you the ability to harvest all year long.
Cold frames are boxes that protect plants throughout the winter with a top that lets the sunlight in. They can be “as simple and small as a plastic 2-liter bottle with the bottom cut off, carefully placed over top of a plant to offer a little more warmth,” notes the website Epic Gardening, or as complex as a temperature-controlled apparatus that automatically opens the box during hot days.
Generally, though, the boxes are unheated, powered by solar energy that comes from the structure itself and the surrounding soil. They can be made of wood, bricks, or bales of straw. Some gardeners also add rocks around the box to trap even more heat. As for the lid, many use recycled windows. (Google to find numerous articles on how to build a cold box.)
Varied kinds of plants do well in cold boxes, including spinach, kale, chicory, lettuce, collard greens, mustard greens, carrots, parsnips, turnips, radishes, rutabagas, cauliflower, broccoli, cilantro, parsley, scallions.
The website GrowJourney suggests homeowners grow a mix of leafy greens, braised greens, roots, florets and herbs. “This way, you don’t get bored with what’s on your dinner plate. You also get more nutritional diversity, which translates to a broader range of vitamins, minerals and micronutrients.”
And if you need any further encouragement for cold-weather gardening, consider this amazing benefit: “Most insect pests are safely tucked away until spring, meaning you don’t have to stress about insects eating your plants,” notes GrowJourney.