So finally I have a chance to write the details of our cold frame construction. I've been wanting one for a while and my husband finally agreed to help this week during my vacation and before he starts a new job. We saw a few windows advertised on Craig's List but they were hours away. So when we took our recycling on Wednesday we looked in the area where people bring scrap metal and windows. There we found 3 large 25" x 40" wood frame windows with solid glass and no panes. They looked perfect. And best of all they were free.
We came home and made plans, figuring out what lumber we would need. We used the basic design from Eliot Coleman's Four-Season Harvest. Of course the details are lacking and depend on each individual situation. We planned to have a 2 X 12 for the back and a 2 X 8 for the front. We used the rest of the 2 X12 cut at an angle for the sides. We wanted 2 X 2s for the cross brace supports that also hold the hinges but the hardware store only had 2 X 4s. So Matt had to rip them with the circular saw into 2 X 2s.
It took quite a bit of figuring to decide how the hinges would go on and where the cross braces would be so that the windows would be as close together as possible. We also wanted to make sure we could reverse the way the windows fit on for another location where the wind might be different. As you can see, we didn't have a flat spot in the basement where we did the cutting of the wood to lay it out. We ended up using the empty spot in the dining room.
Matt used the jigsaw to cut notches into the front and back pieces for the cross braces to fit into. We finished cutting all the pieces, including trimming some extra wood off the windows so they would lie flat. Taking Eliot Coleman's advice, we assembled it with all the flat pieces on the floor and then flipped it to put the cross braces in and windows on top.
We put the hinges on the windows and frame while it was still in the house to make sure it would work, but then took them back off to get it out to the garden. While the windows were off, we tacked scrap wood to the base, so that it would be in contact with the ground rather than the frame itself.
After getting it into the garden, Matt made three props for the window and devised a way for them to hang inside the frame when not being used. You can also see we moved the wireless sensor from our thermometer inside so we can keep track of the temperature. We won't know the true temperature outside, but we'll know what it's like the the cold frame.
We also added handles to the windows. All the windows have a groves in the side where the pulley system ran. Before you could just stick your fingers in the grove to lift. However, we figured in winter, it would be much better to have a handle.
For the spring we've placed the cold frame on a spot where there used to be a raised bed. Last year my mystery plant and onions grew there. This year I'll use it for starting seeds and then herbs and flowers. We plan to move the cold frame to the southern most bed in the fall and hope to harvest into the winter. I'm very thankful for all my husband's time and effort in building this with me. (I did contribute by holding wood as he cut and hammering a few nails).