What is a Cold Frame Garden?

A cold frame is a transparent-roofed enclosure usually built low to the ground used to protect plants from adverse weather.  The transparent top allows sunlight in while reducing  heat loss.

Essentially, a cold frame functions as a miniature greenhouse to extend the growing season.

Cold frames are found in many home gardens and in vegetable farming. They create a micro-climate that provides several degrees of air and soil temperature insulation, and shelter from wind. In cold-winter regions (like Colorado) these characteristics allow plants to be started earlier in the spring, and to survive longer into the fall and winter.

My Cold Frame Gardens

14'x3' Cold Frame


6'x3' Cold Frame

I use my cold frame to plant early and harvest long after the last frost. We built them with the ability to remove the windows in the hot summer months and replace them in the cooler fall weather.  They were both built it using old windows (from the Re-Store and friends yards) and left over trex decking. I have a small urban yard, so we can’t have one cold frame and then a second garden for the plants to grow in the summer (many cold frames are used only to ‘harden’ plants for the elements). I did get a tip to put Black jugs full of water in the cold frame to absorb the heat and it will keep it warm longer in the cold nights/days. I will have to try that!

You can buy Cold frames from gardening stores and websites (I like Gardeners Supply Co). I had one that was a plastic cover with screens that covered a 4’x6′ garden. It lasted three summers before it totally disintegrated. It cost about $150 and lasted three years, so I was happy. But the ones we built cost us about $90 (including soil to fill it), are 4x’s the size and will probably last 10+ years if I paint the wood and keep the maintenance up.

Not everyone has a husband who is a builder and can make them things like this in a day. So a pre-made one may be for you.

Benefits to a cold frame are…

Protection from  Dogs,cats and other domestic pets (like my chickens)

Protection from Squirrels, birds and other wildlife

Protection from the elements

Extend your growing seasons



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