Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Another cold frame

I quickly put together another cold frame today. This one is beside the existing protected cold frame. I put it there to take advantage of the site: it’s sheltered by a thick box hedge, gets the heat reflected from the house wall and the heat which seeps from the building itself, and it gets sun much of the day during the winter. So far, I’m very favorably impressed with what I can grow in the protected cold frame.

This new frame will not be quite so cozy. For one thing, it projects beyond the house wall a couple of feet. And the part which projects does so into a raised bed – the back side of this new frame will not have the house wall to shelter its full length.

Cold frames are a valuable garden amenity at this time of year. I think of them as the ideal substitute for snow cover. In fact, they are better than snow cover because they allow the light to penetrate to the plants freely. I use the cold frames for several main purposes. For one, they house a wide variety of plants which need a cold winter but which are not adapted to the sort of winters we experience here (i.e. no reliable snow cover). Dozens of storied winter growing plants from climates like that of the Mediterranean flourish in my protected cold frame.

Cold frames are also the place to winter newly received nursery stock (i.e. all those impulse purchases you made as the season drew to an end and desperate retailers slashed their prices).

The primary intended use for the one built today is to house the overflow of marginally hardy plants such as members of the genus Arum. These plants take a lot of space; those I planted into the ground of the protected cold frame last year as small plants came back this year as big bruisers. This summer I intend to spread them out in this new frame.

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