Build It Now
While there are lots of options for constructing a cold frame, I've found that using recycled wood window sashes and plastic sheeting is the easiest and cheapest. Find window sashes at flea markets or used-lumber stores, or use plastic instead. Follow these steps to create your own.
Step 1: A cold frame can be as big or small as you need. This one is 4 x 2 x 2 feet with triangular sides. Build it using cedar or pressure-treated 2 x 2s. Attach the pieces with galvanized L brackets and 1 1/2-inch-long decking screws.
Step 2: Cut pieces of 5-millimeter-thick plastic sheeting to fit the sides and back of the frame. Staple the plastic to the top and sides of the frame.
Step 3: Using two hinges per window, screw the sashes into the frame at the top. Make sure the sashes close tightly on the bottoms and sides. Use insulation such as weather stripping to fill in any gaps. Add a coat of paint to the sashes to preserve the wood and offer a touch of color in the winter garden.
MATERIALS (for a 4- x 2- x 2-foot frame)
- 3 (4-foot-long) cedar or pressure-treated 2 x 2s
- 2 (2-foot-long, 10-inch) cedar or pressure-treated 2 x 2s
- 4 (2-foot-long) cedar or pressure-treated 2 x 2s
- 4 galvanized L brackets
- 1 box (11/2-inch-long) decking screws
- 16 square feet (5-millimeter-thick) plastic sheeting
- staple gun with staples
- 2 (2 x 2 foot) window sashes
- 4 stainless steel hinges
- 1 roll weather stripping insulation
- 1 pint indoor/outdoor paint
- 2 extra 2 x 2s to prop open cold frame
"Endless Harvest" is from the December 2005 issue of Southern Living.