My Cold Frame Challenge

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Three years ago, I built myself a cold frame. I thought it would be the coolest thing ever and enhance my winter sowing experience. I couldn’t wait to try it out.

I found some free windows and scrap wood and built my cold frame almost for free (with the help of a good friend who knows how to use a saw!). I brought (this fricken heavy thing) home and set it up in the perfect spot in the backyard.

I sowed a bunch of seeds in flats and filled up my awesome new cold frame and I waited. Every day I couldn’t wait to get home to check for new sprouts and I waited… and waited… and waited… what the?

After several weeks, I knew something had to be wrong. Heck, some of my winter sown containers were sprouting by then, but I hadn’t gotten a single sprout in my cold frame… hummm.

Finally I gave up on the seed flats and put some seedlings I had growing in the house out in the cold frame instead. Oh boy, this was going to be awesome!! I was back in business.

Once again, every day I rushed home to check on my seedlings… and every day I watched them slowly wither and die. What the?

So I headed to the internet to do some research (I guess I should have done my research BEFORE using the thing) and I discovered that (dah) I had fried my seeds and seedlings because I wasn’t venting the cold frame correctly (ehem, at all). It was way too hot in there.

Well, that wasn’t as cool as I thought it would be.

My cold frame, currently being used to store my rain barrels

So I gave up on my cold frame and have been too nervous/ busy to try it out again.

Ok, now for the challenge… my husband was bugging me to get rid of it because it’s too big to store (fair enough!), so I asked for a compromise. If I don’t figure out how to use it this year, I promised that I would get rid of it this summer. GAME ON!

Umm… now what?

Well, I guess I should get busy doing research to figure out how to successfully use this thing and decide if it’s something I want to keep up long term. If anyone has any tips for me, please, please share them!! I need help!

(Oh, and if you don’t hear anymore about the cold frame, you’ll know that I lost the challenge)

My cold frame at a slightly better angle

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  1. says

    I love your honesty! Good luck figuring out the cold frame! Sounds like your winter sowing project is very productive. I'll have to try that next fall/winter.

  2. juli says


    I just started winter sowing. Yesterday, I planted cherry tomatoes, beef tomatoes, basil, beetroot and daisies. I'm not quite sure if this is going to work. My husband laughs at me and says I can not plant anything when there is snow. Finding your website gives me hope. Do I have to take them in when snow comes or leave them out?

  3. says

    @PlantPostings – LOL, thanks! I need all the help I can get. I definitely would recommend trying winter sowing if you have never done it before. If nothing else, it's a fun experiment!

    @juli – Hi! I was very nervous the first year I tried it too (my husband and friends also laughed at me) and sowed just as many seeds indoor as I did winter sowing (just in case it didn't work).

  4. says

    Hi George,
    Thanks for stopping by. I have checked out your site before and I would love your opinion on how you vent the cold frames and where you put them (as far as sun exposure). Those are my two big unknowns. I was going to use it to help harden off my seedlings, but maybe I'll use it in the garden over my lettuce instead… good idea.


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