Debs Big Backyard: Cold Frames

What a brutal winter it has been for gardeners, and everyone else. 

Especially for us green thumbers who always have an itch to garden year-round, but couldn’t dig into the soil, past the so-called permafrost, until now. 

Since last season, I have been wanting to build a cold frame, you know, the easy-to-build, or assemble, growing tool Gardening guru Eliot Coleman says “is the most dependable, least exploited aid for the four-season harvest.”

Well, indeed that is what a cold frame is.  And, speaking of being sustainable, it can be cobbled together with items you want to recycle, reuse and repurpose:  an old window, discarded wood, hinges and screws…or simply a pile of bricks you can stack to create one.

There are a few other things to consider, too, for safety sake, like using chemical-free materials, for example.

However, with me not being a person who is interested in using a power saw to prepare the wood that is bolted to the window, I went with the stacking brick option.  Now growing in my simple cold frame is kale and spinach I had been maturing under lights in the house, plus some lettuce and Swiss chard I sowed in and will hopefully germinate.

Recently, I headed over to our own local community garden guru, Seamus Ford.  His is the co-founder of Root-Riot Urban Garden Network, which currently has community gardens in Austin, East Garfield Park, and Oak Park.

After spending a morning with Seamus, the idea of me assembling a cold frame to engage in outside gardening year-round is doable, sustainable…and for me, a lot cheaper than buying one.

Just sayin’. 

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Deb Quantock McCarey

Deb Quantock McCarey is an Illinois Press Association (IPA) award-winning freelance writer who has worked with Wednesday Journal Inc. since 1995, writing features and special sections for all its publications....