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PHOTO: erin english/Flickr
A cold frame is a season extension favorite for many gardeners. These raised, window-covered boxes help you lengthen the root-vegetable harvest, grow lettuces and greens into the winter, and harden off seedlings in the spring. But there are so many other amazing ways to use this simple garden tool to your advantage. Take a peek at some of our favorite cold-frame hacks.
1. Speed Up Your Compost
When you aren’t growing food in the cold frame, why not use it to create compost? Layer food scraps and garden waste with leaves, straw, paper shreds or wood chips, and the trapped heat and moisture will hasten the breakdown of materials into soil. Rake the compost and plant directly into the cold frame, or shovel finished compost out to use elsewhere in the garden.
2. Keep Critters Out
Some dogs and cats are attracted to garden crops. Keep Rex out of your carrots and Fluffy away from the catnip by growing your crops in a cold frame. Cold frames can also keep hungry wild animals, like raccoons and rabbits from, thieving your harvest. You don’t have to worry about animal waste on crops grown in a cold frame either.
3. Keep Pets In
If you happen to keep a pocket pet, like a turtle or guinea pig, why not let them have some free-range time in the cold frame? They’ll munch on any leaves or stems left behind and turn the soil a bit, too. Just be sure to adjust ventilation and give them plenty of water so they don’t overheat in the sun.
4. Write Notes That Inspire
A steamy cold frame is a fun ephemeral message board for family members and fellow gardeners. How delightful would it be to walk through the garden and see a welcoming “Hello” or simple drawing on the misty top?
Better still, paint a pro-gardening slogan on the side of your cold frame to stay inspired and encourage others. If you are a community gardener, add the name of your organization to the cold-frame canvas.
5. Keep Supplies Dry In The Off Season
A well-constructed, closed cold frame keeps rainwater out of the bed. Use that dry space to your advantage, and store tools or pots under cover when you aren’t growing food.
6. House Dormant Plants
Some garden plants go dormant but need to be protected from frost. Certain bulbs need to be dug and stored over winter before being replanted in the spring. A cold frame is perfect for housing these types of plants and root cuttings. Nestle them in straw or bury in sawdust for the most insulation value and be sure to remove anything sensitive to heat before bright warm days or you risk dehydrating the plants.
7. Add Color And Beauty To Your Garden
Add decorative touches to your cold frame design to infuse your garden with your style. Paint the wood a bold color that will make you smile during the winter. Create contrast by varying heights of cold frames and your raised beds, or add a sense of unity by choose equal measurements for all accessories. Every garden structure you build provides an opportunity to add character to your space.