Thursday, May 9, 2013

Homemade coldframes

After languishing in the polytunnel, plants will not be prepared for life outside the tunnel. To develop strong stems and tolerance to winds & lower temperatures, plant need to be acclimatised more gradually than a straight transplant. Cuttings also benefit from shelter whilst developing roots and a coldframe is the ideal halfway house. Often overlooked but easily self-made, coldframes must have an opening lid so you can vary the exposure to the elements and close up at night if frost threatens. Apart from that they can be all sorts of shapes and sizes. Discarded wooden-framed windows form the perfect lid. Don't use double-glazed sealed units as they are too flimsy once the aluminium frame is removed.

Weed barrier is placed on the base, together with gravel if you have it. I also dose mine with slug pellets as birds don't go in the cold frames but slugs do.

In the photo, my original homemade cold frame, with rolling polythene cover is shown on with a newer one made from polytunnel plastic over a timber frame. The timber one had the inside painted white. The plastic-covered design is ideal if you don't yet have a polytunnel. Make sure it doesn't get too hot in sunny weather by adjusting the hinged lid

Also shown if some of the early (for this year) polytunnel plants. Hanging baskets and window boxes or containers can be grown at an accelerated rate in the polytunnel and then acclimatised outside during warm days until all threat of frost has gone (usually end May in lowland SE Ireland where I live).

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