Hellooo, we’re not California! Our weather, pests, diseases, climate and soils in the Pacific Northwest are not the same as Georgia, Vermont or the mid-west. What works in other places won’t necessarily work here.
Master Gardeners, urban farmers and longtime growers, we all live and garden right here in the Pacific Northwest.
Up Your Game: 12 Fabulous Reasons Why a Coldframe is the Single Best Way to Improve Your Garden.
A cold frame is like a miniature greenhouse, built low to the ground and mainly used to protect plants during the cooler months. Without a cold frame in your garden, winters in the Pacific Northwest are too cold and wet to grow many veggies. But add just a little protection and watch the magic! You can grow an abundance of fresh, healthful veggies with little cost and not much work – Easy Peasy!
A covered garden lengthens the growing season (the time between frosts). Veggies start growing earlier in the Spring and grow happily later into the fall. It’s like moving your garden 600 miles to the south – but without the crowds.
We all want a little warmth and tenderness, veggies included. A cold frame, cloche or greenhouse captures heat from the sun and earth and holds it near your plants, speeding germination and growth. A cold frame in April is like the Jurassic jungle – a verdant, seething mass of explosive growth ready to take over the world.
You can harvest during the winter and early spring when store-bought produce is most expensive. Instead of $3 a head for lettuce that’s been beat to pieces for a thousand miles you can have fresh, beautiful produce from your own garden. No trucked in, south-of-the-border lettuce for me Baby! How local is that?
The more veggies the better. Listen, you can’t grow pumpkin pie or Mounds bars in the garden. Having veggies just waiting for you out the back door is bound to encourage healthy eating. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s… need we say more?
No mud, thanks. Endless rains compact the soil surface and leach away vital minerals. Some people spread tarps over their garden beds in the winter for this very reason – why not make that covering clear and grow some delicious, healthful veggies underneath?
Less watering. Those blistering hot August days can mean watering every day or two but a cold frame recycles its own water. As water vapor inside contacts the cold covering it condenses and falls back down as a gentle rain. During humid, rainy periods you may not need to water for weeks at a time.
A home for your tender or tropical plants. We love tropical potted plants during the summer but most won’t survive the winter unprotected. If well insulated on the coldest nights (like below 30 degrees) many tropical plants like begonia, ginger or hibiscus can survive Northwest winters quite happily in a cold frame.
Wind, rain, hail, more rain – this does not make your plants happy. Wet conditions encourage diseases that can rot plants down to a sad brown lump. Cold, dry winds can suck the moisture from vulnerable leaves or simply knock plants over.
Toughen up, Cupcake. Plants you’ve started indoors need to be “hardened off” before transferring to the garden. A cold frame provides the perfect transition from cushy indoor conditions to life in the wilds of your garden.
Your covered bed is ready to plant earlier in the year. While Neighbor Bob is waiting for his cold, soggy garden to dry out you can happily plant (and harvest!) months earlier. A cold frame is also a great place to start flats of veggies for later planting in the garden.
Without a covered bed you’re missing out on some of the best growing conditions of the year. Check out the chart below – from March to June the days get longer and daytime temperature warms but nights are still cold and the soil in your garden is too wet to work. A cold frame allows you to take advantage of this time to grow abundant, beautiful veggies with less work, little cost and under ideal conditions.
The Top 5 Organic Ingredients for the Most Beautiful Garden Ever (Hint: the 3 best are Free!)
- Little known tricks from an Oregon Master Gardener.
- Grow your most beautiful, productive and abundant garden ever.
- Get your free report plus our monthly newsletter by clicking below.
While Neighbor Bob is waiting for his cold, soggy garden to dry out you can happily plant (and harvest!) months earlier.
Early spring is a great time to grow veggies in a cold frame.
Leafy greens are especially good: Lettuce, Swiss chard, arugula, spinach, corn salad, parsley, mustard greens and cilantro are great. For variety add radishes including daikon, Bok Choy, kale, cabbage and onions.