15 Cold Frame Ideas to Prolong the Growing Season in Your Garden

If you are an avid gardener, you might call yourself a mediator between your plants and your local climate. You do everything within your power to ensure that your plants grow bountifully under the benevolent guise of nature, sun, and rain. Throughout most of the year, this is the most effective way to make your garden thrive – but of course, there’s one exception: the cold season. As the earth tilts away from your ally, the sun, your enemy named “Frost” moves in to kill in a good chunk of your annual plants.

You may be tempted to admit defeat and hang up your gardening gloves, but wait! There are ways of keeping plants alive, even thriving, during autumn and winter. How? Through something called a cold frame, also known as a “mini-greenhouse”. Take a look at the cold frame ideas below to reap the benefits of year-long gardening.

1. Teepee Cold Frame

Historically, there were few groups quite as in tune with the environment as the Native Americans, so it’s understandable that there should be some spillover from their excellent shelter-building techniques to your garden.

Source: thedeliberateagrarian.blogspot.com   and  vk.com

2. A-Framed Window Cover

What’s better than getting all of your materials in a single trip to the hardware store? In zero trips to the hardware store, as long as you have some old windows lying around. It’s easy to hinge two of them (or one sliding one) and set them over your plants for enhanced solar retention.

Source: ljo-s.blogspot.com    and   ogorod.ru

3.  55-Gallon Drum Garden

This epitomic example of resourceful recycling is an easy, winter-resistant enclosure for lettuces and herbs.

4. Brick-Based Cold Frame

Why do people build houses out of brick? Because it’s such a great insulator, of course. Making garden beds out of this affordable material topped with old window covers will keep your plants as cozy as you are inside.

Source: fortikur.com   Tutorial: meillakotona.fi

5.  Hoop House

This is a common method for winter-fying a garden for good reason. It’s easy, efficient, and affordable. Plus, the height of the enclosure will provide space for taller plants to continue growing throughout the cold season.


6.  In-Ground Greenhouse

While this option may be a bit costlier than the others on this list, you may be convinced that the prospect of unfettered, year-round gardening is worth it. It’s true, earth is one of the best insulators in existence.

Source: treehugger.com   Tutorial: undergroundaquaponics.blogspot.com

7.  A Sloping Cold Frame Based on Your Fence

A tall backyard fence is ideal for creating a sloped bed with a lid that can be pushed upward to sit flush with your fence. Discreet and practical.

Source: grit.com  and  lopezislandkitchengardens.wordpress.com

8.  Build a Lid for Raised Beds

There’s no need to move your planting operation to a new area. Simply convert your existing raised bed garden into low-profile greenhouses with glass or plastic lids enclosed in a wooden frame. Be careful to vent everything out though because this design is almost too effective.

Source(1): deeprootsathome.com   Source(2): earthfoodandfire.com   Source(4): gardenlogblog.wordpress.com

9.  Tool-Free Cold Frame

the only “tools” you’ll need are a couple of bales of straw or hay (easy if you live on or near a farm), some old windows, and maybe some plastic. It might not be the prettiest option, but it’s just as effective as the rest – and that’s what matters, right?

Source: highmowingseeds.com

10.  Build a Tunnel-Style Enclosure

a single trip to your local hardware store is all you need to get everything you need: PVC, rebar, and plastic sheeting, that is.

Tutorial(1): bonnieplants.com       Tutorial(2): motherearthnews.com     Source(3): motherofahubbard.com

11. DIY Greenhouse with Shower Panels

The result is impressive and deceptively complicated, but all you need to build it is a meager amount of lumber and some glass or plastic panes.

tutorial: mastergardening.wordpress.com

12.  Burlap Frost Covers

Talk about “affordable”. Burlap is a superb insulator that kept people warm for centuries and is certainly capable of doing the same for your plants.

source: 10 Clever Uses for Burlap in Gardening Projects

13.  Repurposed Trampoline Greenhouse

Jump on it ’till it breaks, but when it breaks don’t throw it out. Cut in half, a trampoline makes the ideal frame for your own walk-in greenhouse.

tutorial: howdoesshe.com

14.  Mini Greenhouse Made of Storm Windows

If you’re looking for something durable, then this aesthetic little box will please your eyes and the plants inside when harsh winter winds pick up.

tutorial: designdreamsbyanne.blogspot.ca

15. Polycarbonate Roof Panel Tunnel

With only two materials required, this is a simple and effective cold frame that just looks good.

Plastic Bottle Greenhouse

Tutorial Here: ana-white

Plastic Tent Greenhouse

Image VIA: diysolargreenhouses

Tutorial: ecofriend