Friday, October 17, 2008

Nobody could ever accuse me of under-engineering...

This week has definitely marked a turn in the seasons, with cool rains and falling temperatures. I thought I'd better get on the stick and finish the top to my cold frame before my carrots got caught by a freeze.

I had a cedar box that I've used as a raised bed in the past, so I thought I'd use that as the base and build a removable top for it. That way I can put the box back to use as a raised bed if I ever need it.

Here are some pics of how the top turned out:

I started with using simple plastic sheeting, but when I put it out in the rain one night this week to test it, it filled with water and tore. So I got some clear corrugated PVC roofing material and used that instead. The PVC and foam support together cost about $17. (A plexiglass sheet for the same size would have cost $25.) The cedar I used for the top frame is made of 4" and 6" fencing pickets, with the sides cut on a slope to create run-off, and they cost ~$12 total. So the top wasn't cheap--well more than I would pay for carrots or arugula in the store--but it is sturdy, and should last several seasons, thus amortizing the cost. I hope. Plus, I can't stand flimsy construction. It just offends my sensibilities.

Many instructions for cold frames suggest using an old window, which is fine if you have old windows lying around. I do not, preferring to use my old windows for, well, windows. I find that the house is much warmer that way.

I ran poultry wire along the inside of the box, and plan to fill it with leaf litter for added insulation:

Hopefully, the timing of the pecan trees' leaf drop will correspond to the need for added insulation. I thought about getting some builder's insulation and tacking it on the inside (per some instructions I found on the internet), but since I had a roll of poultry wire lying around, this was cheaper free, organic, and at the end of the season, I'll have material for compost. As Martha would say, it's a good thing.

I think it has turned out well. It will be interesting to see how long into the winter season I can grow things. Plus, I hope to use it in the spring to start seedlings for my foray into heirlooms. I do love a good experiment!

And building things. I love building things. I am just a building fool...


  1. Sounds like a good sort of fool to be, all things considered. This project looks great, anyway. Want to come by my place in Montana and build one for me? No? Shucks.

  2. Hey, I love Montana! Just say the word, and I'm there.;-)

  3. Excellent. I think I could build something like that, though it wouldn't look quite as nice as that. Love the idea of using leaves as insulation on the inside! Thanks for the ideas!