Cold Frames and Cloches: Extend Your Growing Season

Are you looking to extend your growing season and get more from your garden?

Look no further than cold frames and cloches, season-extending techniques that are perfect for any size garden or growing space.

In this post, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know about cold frames and cloches, including the benefits, the materials you’ll need, and how to use them.

With these tools in your gardening arsenal, you can have fresh produce and beautiful blooms long after your neighbors have put their gardens to bed.

So what are you waiting for?

Let’s dive right in!

Materials Needed for Making a Cold Frame

To get started on creating your own cold frame, you’ll need to gather a few materials. Luckily, many of the supplies you’ll need can be found around the house or at a local hardware store.

Types of Materials

The most basic cold frames are constructed from scrap lumber and old windows. Four planks of wood will create the frame, while the windows will form the top of the cold frame itself. Alternatively, pvc piping, greenhouse plastic, or even straw bales can be used to create a low-cost and effective seasonal growing structure.

Tools needed for construction

While not required, a few specific tools will help speed up the construction process. A power saw or hand saw is useful for cutting lumber to the right lengths, while a power drill can make it easier to screw the corners of the frame together. You may also need a hammer, a measuring tape, and a level, depending on the materials you use.

Steps to make a simple cold frame

  1. Find a level spot in your garden, preferably one that gets ample sunlight throughout the day.
  2. Cut your lumber to the correct lengths. Four sturdy wooden planks will create the frame of your cold frame.
  3. Screw the planks together to form a box shape.
  4. Measure the dimensions of your frame and cut your window material — plastic or glass — to fit.
  5. Attach the windows to the frame of your cold frame using hinges or screws.
  6. Add a layer of soil or mulch to the bottom of the frame.
  7. Plant your selected crops in the soil bed, remembering to leave ample space between them.

By using these simple materials and steps, you can create a cold frame that will help you extend your growing season and allow you to enjoy fresh, homegrown produce for longer periods of time.

How to Use a Cold Frame

Growing crops in a cold frame is not much different from growing them in a garden bed, but there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure success.

Best crops to grow in a cold frame

Cool-season crops are ideal for growing in a cold frame, as they prefer the lower temperatures that are maintained in these structures. Some of the best crops to grow in a cold frame include lettuce, spinach, arugula, kale, and other leafy greens. Root crops such as carrots, beets, and radishes can also be grown in a cold frame.

Adding soil to a cold frame

When adding soil to your cold frame, it’s important to use a high-quality soil mix that is rich in organic matter. Fill the cold frame to a depth of at least 6 inches to allow for proper root development. It’s also a good idea to add a layer of compost or other organic matter to the soil surface to help retain moisture and provide nutrients to your crops.

Ventilation and monitoring

Proper ventilation is essential when using a cold frame. On warm, sunny days, remember to open the top of the cold frame to prevent your plants from overheating. On cold nights, you may need to cover the top of the frame with blankets or other insulating materials to keep your plants warm.

Be sure to keep an eye on the temperature inside your cold frame, using a thermometer if necessary to monitor the conditions. Water your plants regularly, taking care not to overwater them.

By following these simple steps, you can successfully use a cold frame to extend your growing season and enjoy a bountiful harvest of fresh, healthy vegetables.

Materials Needed for Making a Cloche

When it comes to making a cloche, you don’t need to be a DIY expert. You can make a simple one from some basic materials.

Types of materials

To make a cloche, you will need materials that can be easily sourced from your local hardware store or garden center. Some of the materials you will need include PVC pipes or wooden stakes, clear plastic sheeting, and clamps or ties to hold the plastic in place.

Tools needed for construction

The tools required are basic ones that you might already have in your toolbox. These include a drill, a saw, a screwdriver, and a measuring tape.

Steps to make a simple cloche

To make a simple cloche, follow these steps:

  1. Create a frame by connecting the PVC pipes or wooden stakes with the clamps or ties to form a rectangular or square shape that matches the size of your garden bed.
  2. Cut the clear plastic sheeting to a size that will cover the frame with about 6 inches of overhang on all sides.
  3. Drape the plastic sheeting over the frame and secure it in place with the clamps or ties. If necessary, you can use bricks or stones to weigh down the edges of the plastic.
  4. Use a sharp knife or scissors to cut a few small ventilation holes in the plastic to allow air to circulate.

By following these simple steps, you can create a basic cloche that will help protect your plants from the cold and the wind, while still allowing in the sunlight and rain they need to thrive.

How to Use a Cloche

When using a cloche, it’s important to keep in mind the benefits this season-extending device provides. First, using a cloche provides protection from frost, winds, and extreme temperatures that can harm or kill young plants. Second, a cloche helps to create a microclimate that is optimal for plant growth, providing warmer temperatures, higher humidity, and increased carbon dioxide.

When deciding which crops to grow under a cloche, there are several things to consider. Some plants that can thrive under a cloche include lettuce, spinach, greens, and radishes. Cloches can also be used to start warm-season vegetables like tomatoes and cucumbers earlier in the season. When planting your crops, be sure to give them enough space to grow and avoid overcrowding.

Watering and monitoring your crops in a cloche is important to ensure they thrive. Adding a layer of mulch around your plants can help conserve moisture and keep the soil warm. Be sure to monitor soil moisture regularly and water as needed. Also, be sure to ventilate your cloche on sunny days to prevent excess humidity buildup.

By using a cloche, you can extend your growing season and protect your plants from harsh weather conditions. With a little bit of know-how, you can easily incorporate this season-extending device into your garden and enjoy a longer growing season.

Reasons for choosing one over the other

If you’re trying to decide between using a cold frame or a cloche, there are a few things to consider. The first is the size of the growing area you need. If you need a larger space to grow your plants, a cold frame is likely your best bet. They typically offer more space and can accommodate a variety of plants. On the other hand, a cloche is best suited for smaller beds or individual plants.

Another factor to consider is cost. Cloches are generally less expensive to make or buy, and they can be easily moved from one location to another. Cold frames, while larger and more versatile, can be more expensive and require more materials to construct. It’s important to weigh your options and determine which option is best for your budget.

Comparing maintenance and cost

When it comes to maintenance, cloches are generally easier to care for. Since they’re smaller in size, they require less cleaning and sterilization. Plus, since they’re easily movable, you can position them according to your plants’ needs and easily clean the area around them. Cold frames, on the other hand, are more difficult to clean and require more maintenance. They’re also more difficult to move if you need to adjust your planting layout.

When it comes to cost, again, cloches are less expensive. They require less materials to make and don’t involve any hinges or doors like cold frames. As a result, they’re a better option for those looking to grow on a budget.

Ultimately, the choice between cold frames and cloches depends on your gardening needs and budget. Consider the growing area you need, as well as the factors of cost and maintenance. Whether you choose a cold frame or cloche, using one of these season-extending techniques can help you extend your growing season and achieve a bountiful harvest.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, utilizing cold frames and cloches can be a game-changer for extending your growing season.

Not only do they protect your crops from harsh weather conditions, but they also provide an ideal microclimate for your plants to thrive.

I hope this post has given you some valuable insights into these techniques and inspired you to give them a try in your own garden.

So, which strategy from today’s post are you going to try first?

Let me know by sending me a message!

Also, If you found this post helpful, please consider sharing it on social media to spread the word and help other gardening enthusiasts.

Thanks for reading!

Author: Scott Sanders


All the information on this website - - is published in good faith and for general information purpose only. Planet 997 does not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability and accuracy of this information. Any action you take upon the information you find on this website (Planet 997), is strictly at your own risk. Planet 997 will not be liable for any losses and/or damages in connection with the use of our website.

From our website, you can visit other websites by following hyperlinks to such external sites. While we strive to provide only quality links to useful and ethical websites, we have no control over the content and nature of these sites. These links to other websites do not imply a recommendation for all the content found on these sites. Site owners and content may change without notice and may occur before we have the opportunity to remove a link which may have gone 'bad'.

Please be also aware that when you leave our website, other sites may have different privacy policies and terms which are beyond our control. Please be sure to check the Privacy Policies of these sites as well as their "Terms of Service" before engaging in any business or uploading any information.

By using our website, you hereby consent to our disclaimer and agree to its terms.

Some of the links on this page may be affiliate links. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same, but we will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated and helps us keep going!
Copyright © 2023 Planet 997