Cold Frame (because Winter Is Coming)

Winter Is Coming. HBO often reminds us of this fact in season previews. But unlike the characters in Game of Thrones, the Nashville Fosters got smart and built a cold frame.  After a less-than-epic journey into the realms of Craigslist, Home Depot, and the mysterious shed in our backyard, I can confidently say we’ll be keeping the spinach growing all. Winter. Long.

I majored in English (not Cold Frame Construction) so any purple plans you might encounter are Tim’s Etch A Sketchings of brilliance, not mine.  (I demonstrated alliteration to prove my point about the majors.)

Having a cold frame is essential for winter gardening, especially if you don’t have the space or sunlight to grow plants indoors.  Even though the temperatures in Nashville dip to an average low of 30 degrees (a pickle compared to the -10 degree weather that was the norm in Nebraska), I still wanted to start off growing year-round.  To help our grocery bill, of course.  And my sanity.  And my patience?  I can’t wait five months for the weather to behave.


I wanted to use old windows for the screen of the cold frame.  Once I decided to actually DO something about wanting to build a cold frame, it took seconds of effortless searching to find several antique windows for sale on Craigslist ($10 each).  The windows aren’t quite congruent but the differences are so minimal that I turned a blind eye and bought them anyway.

Craigslistacular Windows

Next on the list?  Wood.  Tim and I set out to cut down a forest but stopped at a nearby Home Depot instead.  Figuring out the dimensions of the frame, measuring the windows, measuring the car to see if we could even get the wood home, and messing up the calculations two or three times kinda wipes the soul of your day.  Naturally I let Tim handle the math.  Oh, yeah, and our tools consisted of a hand saw, screw driver, and a hammer.  Is it 2012?  Not in our backyard.

Awesome sideways picture? Check.


Tim and I waited until the temperature was Sweat On before heading outside to start the project.

While Tim built the frame with caveman tools, I tilled along the east fence with a shovel, sandals, and my high school volleyball spandex.  Obviously I’m too cool for school and therefore job searching.

The grass went into the compost (along with my ability to color coordinate).

When the frame was complete, I helped Tim move the coffin box to its home on the east end of the yard.  I hammered some nails and sawed some wood just to feel like a legit American Conservation Corps member again, but my true talent was discovered after fastening the hinges onto the backs of the windows.

Stretching or building?

The hardest part of building a cold frame was amassing the materials.  I found these instructions from Hidden Springs Farms and Tim was able to reconstruct the cold frame concept with relatively no problems apart from having to use primitive tools (for babies).  Walking through aisles and aisles of lumber at Home Depot was also intimidating (as was watching Tim puzzle out the measurements), but once the material was purchased it was just a matter of hammering some nails.

Requiem for American Conservation Corps

Testing the hinge action

A packet of seeds arrived in the mail yesterday, so tomorrow I will begin PLANTING THINGS. Try not to get too excited.  Or dwell. Or text in anticipation.  Patience, people.

Finished product!



3 responses to “Cold Frame (because Winter Is Coming)

  1. You two look so American! I want to live in a place that doesn’t angrily spit ice for 4-5 months straight. Are there any communal-type farms in Nashville? Maybe ones that are hiring? Good luck with your baby tools!

  2. I’m a few days late in commenting, but I have to say, I am very impressed with your handwork. I don’t think I’d trust myself with any construction tools, even baby ones.

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