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A traditional homemade cold frame

In agriculture and gardening, a cold frame is a transparent-roofed enclosure, built low to the ground, used to protect plants from adverse weather, primarily excessive cold or wet. The transparent top admits sunlight and prevents heat escape via convection that would otherwise occur, particularly at night. Essentially, a cold frame functions as a miniature greenhouse to extend the growing season.[1]

Historically, cold frames were built to be used in addition to a heated greenhouse. The name itself exemplifies the distinction between the warm greenhouse and the unheated cold frame. They were frequently built as part of the greenhouse's foundation brickwork along the southern wall (in northern latitudes). This allowed seeds to be germinated in the greenhouse and then easily moved to the attached cold frame to be "hardened-off"[2] before final planting outside.[3] Cold frames are similar to some enclosed hotbeds,[4] also called hotboxes. The difference is in the amount of heat generated inside. This is parallel to the way that some greenhouses are called "hothouses" to emphasize their higher temperature, achieved either by the solar effects alone or by auxiliary heating via a heater or HVAC system of some kind.

Cold frames are found in home gardens and in vegetable farming. They create microclimates that provide several degrees of air and soil temperature insulation, and shelter from wind. In cold-winter regions, these characteristics allow plants to be started earlier in the spring, and to survive longer into the fall and winter. They are most often used for growing seedlings that are later transplanted into open ground, and can also be a permanent home to cold-hardy vegetables grown for autumn and winter harvest.


Cold frame construction is a common home or farm building project, although kits and commercial systems are available. A traditional plan makes use of old glass windows: a wooden frame is built, about one to two feet tall, and the window placed on top. The roof is often sloped towards the winter sun to capture more light, and to improve runoff of water, and hinged for easy access. Clear plastic, rigid or sheeting, can be used in place of glass. An electric heating cable, available for this purpose, can be placed in the soil to provide additional heat.


Cold frames can be used to extend the growing season for many food and ornamental crops, primarily by providing increased warmth in early spring. This means that it's possible to harvest vegetable crops ahead of their normal season when they are extremely expensive to buy. Some crops suitable for growing in a cold frame include lettuces, parsley, salad onions, spinach, radishes and turnips etc. One vegetable crop can occupy the whole of a cold frame or a combination of crops can be grown so that they mature in rotation in order to get a wide range of different vegetables throughout the year from a single cold frame.

Bulb frame[edit]

A "bulb frame" is a specialized kind of cold frame, designed for growing hardy or almost hardy ornamental bulbous plants, particularly in climates with wet winters. Typically it is raised further above ground level than a normal cold frame, so that the plants can be seen better when in flower. They are often used for the cultivation of winter-growing bulbs which flower in the autumn or spring. The covers are used in winter to provide some protection from very bad weather, while allowing good ventilation. Then in the summer, the covers provide dry, warm conditions which many such bulbs need.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Cold Frame as Season Extension from Grass to Greens". www.grass2greens.com. Retrieved 19 November 2014. 
  2. ^ coldframe.org.uk
  3. ^ "A brief history of cold frames". coldframe.org.uk. 
  4. ^ merriam-webster.com
  5. ^ Mathew, Brian (1997). Growing Bulbs : The Complete Practical Guide. London: Batsford. ISBN 978-0-7134-4920-4.  Pp. 32–34

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cold_frame — Please support Wikipedia.
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1062 news items

Horticulture Week

Horticulture Week
Thu, 29 Oct 2015 05:33:45 -0700

Chief executive officer Joe Denham said: "Our greenhouse cover has proved extremely popular since its launch and as the Grow Your Own trend continues to expand, we're confident that our Cold Frame will be just as much in demand. This is a premium ...


Mon, 09 Nov 2015 10:00:00 -0800

VegTrug's new premium cold frame is an addition to the company's existing range of covers. VegTrug keeps frost at bay with new cold frame. The wooden frame and 6mm double insulation polycarbonate provides solid cover that will protect plants over the ...

Ravalli Republic

Ravalli Republic
Tue, 10 Nov 2015 18:37:30 -0800

If the cold frame sides are wood, the boards can be lined with inch-thick styrofoam construction insulation, which does not take up much of the precious heated space. Cold frames are sometimes built from a rectangle of straw bales with an old window ...
Bolivar Herald-Free Press (subscription)
Wed, 25 Nov 2015 13:34:19 -0800

In the early 1900s nearly every American family was engaged to some degree in gardening to feed themselves with homegrown fruits and vegetables or brighten their lives with flowers and colorful shrubs. In those days, most families relied upon the labor ...
Sat, 21 Nov 2015 22:00:00 -0800

A temporary cold frame constructed out of straw bales is excellent for this purpose. Fill all spaces between the pots with mulch, and bring the mulch just about an inch or two over the tops of the pots, much as you would when mulching plants in the ground.


Wed, 07 Oct 2015 06:17:21 -0700

Fall is approaching, but that doesn't have to mean an all-out-stop to your gardening. Building a cold frame for your garden allows you to grow seasonal plants and produce in inclement weather. Sunlight in, cold air out. A cold frame consists of a ...


Fri, 20 Nov 2015 03:03:45 -0800

You can easily fabricate a homemade cold frame with treated lumber or hay bales for the sides and an old window sash for the top. For seed-starting, sprouting early vegetables or hardening off seedlings, you want the frame to face south for maximum light.
Huffington Post
Fri, 07 Aug 2015 17:11:15 -0700

Then somehow I lost touch with this author's offerings and moved on to other writers. P T Deutermann became a distant memory. So imagine my surprise when I discovered his latest novel Cold Frame. And imagine my happiness when I read it and discovered ...

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