What is the Advantage of a Cold Frame?

The Benefits of Using a Cold Frame

One of the most valuable tools in a gardener’s arsenal is the cold frame.

A cold frame is a small, unheated greenhouse that creates a microclimate by trapping solar energy to warm the plants inside. A cold frame also protects plants from potentially harsh environmental conditions. 
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BioStar 1500 Premium Cold-Frame Garden Made in Austria  $499.99

Cold Frame Benefits

Gardeners that utilize cold frames could gain a few different advantages. Getting an early start on the outdoor growing season is probably the most common benefit reaped by hobbyist horticulturists.

With the use of a cold frame, gardeners can get their starts acclimated (hardened off) sooner which allows them to plant larger, more robust plants into the ground. Cold frames will keep the soil and plants contained within approximately 5-10 degrees warmer than the ambient outdoor temperature.

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This usually allows gardeners to start the acclimation process a couple of weeks before the average last frost date in their area.

Easy Fix Double Cold Frame Garden, a man is planting flowers and various seeds.

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Another advantage of using a cold frame is it allows growers to extend the growing season for a number of weeks. This is great for plants that would otherwise wither and die at the first sign of fall. Extending the harvest also means you get to enjoy your own home grown veggies for a longer period of time.

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Some gardeners, depending on their geographical location, use cold frames throughout the winter to either protect dormant plants until spring or to continue to harvest root vegetables and cold tolerant greens.

A sunken cold frame or one that is at least partially buried under ground are the best types of cold frames for the hobbyist looking to overwinter dormant plants.

Year round cold frame garden with lettuce growing inside.  Made in Austria

Year-Round Cold-Frame Garden Made in Austria $249.99

A favorite benefit of using a cold frame is it saves money. By using a cold frame to start your own seeds in the spring you don’t have to purchase starts from a nursery. Starting your own seeds also gives you the “pick of the litter” when it comes to choosing which plants you will use and which you will discard.

The last two growing seasons my vegetable garden has been prolific and produced more than when I was purchasing starts from a nursery.

Cold frames allow any gardener to start their own seeds. This is a huge advantage in itself because it reduces the likelihood of pest insects or other pathogens you may acquire from purchased starts.

Besides avoiding the nasty headache of dealing with an infestation, this also saves money otherwise spent on pesticides. Extending the growing season with a cold frame saves money too.

When using a cold frame in the fall you extend your harvest of edibles which negates having to buy them at the grocery store.

Information courtesy of Garden & Greenhouse

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