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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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1154 news items


Wed, 07 Oct 2015 06:07:30 -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 ...

Odessa American

Odessa American
Sun, 13 Sep 2015 03:02:50 -0700

The best location for your cold frame would be a south-facing sunny spot that best offers some protection from the north winds. Ideally, the cold frame would get mid-morning to mid-afternoon sun and can be established permanently in the garden, or made ...
Topeka Capital Journal
Fri, 02 Oct 2015 12:41:15 -0700

Predicting our coming fall and winter weather is mind boggling but, something we can have some control over is the environment in a cold frame. There are a number of vegetables, particularly greens for salads that will grow very well into winter with ...

Mother Earth News

Mother Earth News
Mon, 05 Oct 2015 14:08:11 -0700

If the day will be sunny with temperatures above 50 degrees Fahrenheit, the cold frame's internal temperature will rise too high for your plants, so you should crack the lids open to allow excess heat to escape. Close your units up at twilight if the ...

The News Journal

The News Journal
Wed, 07 Oct 2015 20:11:15 -0700

Extra wood became an adjoining cold frame to be used for overwintering plants and growing early crops. Completed in early September, the greenhouse only took four days to build, but a seeming lifetime to paint. Because she chose windows for their sound ...

Press Herald

Press Herald
Sun, 27 Sep 2015 01:03:45 -0700

The new project I'm most excited about is a new cold frame that my wife and I ordered online when there was a sale in early August. This will serve a dual purpose: First, we want to eat more of our own fresh vegetables, such as lettuce, much later in ...
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 ...
Sat, 03 Oct 2015 18:07:30 -0700

Unless you are planting in a greenhouse or cold frame, the 2015 planting season is over. Nonetheless, here's October's information about the phases of the moon and signs of the zodiac with October already on its fourth day. The moon. October began and ...

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