Cold Frame Garden

Extending the Growing Season for Harvest

The fall and winter seasons are that time of year when leaves fall from many of the beautiful trees that grace our gardens and landscape as much work has to be done with the raking of leaves and other fall activities.

Then there is winter that follows close by with its many chills as the ground is matted with snow, birds fly south as bears go into their long-awaited rest and many flowering plants refuse to bloom. This is the time of the year when making a snowman, slay rides, hot chocolate, pulling out those boots, coats, scarf, gloves, and other delights that warm the heart.

But this time of the year presents the right opportunity to extend the growing season of our garden plants where we can have an abundance of garden produce freshly picked as we prepare those delicious meals.

Cold Frame Garden

Extending the growing season is not hard it is a matter of knowing what to do in order to get the kind of results that will keep your plants healthy and happy as you enter and go through the winter months.

Winter Protection

Cold frame garden-cold frame gardening
A Cold Frame Garden

Following these steps will ensure that you are eating fresh all winter long by extending the growing season with cold-frame gardening.

A cold frame garden can either be a wooden box with a top that is clear or a stylish planter as in the above photo that is made of bricks, concrete, or plastic which can have either glass or hard plastic tops that captures the suns rays so to speak or solar energy which keeps our plants energizes as they are protected from the elements going through this time of the year.

1. Location- Location is very important when planning a cold frame garden. Choose a location that gets the most sunlight and is protected from strong winds. The frame’s face should face south.

2. The top of cold frames- Ensure at all times that the tops of your cold frame garden are cleared of leaves and other debris because if allowed to remain will block or act as a barrier to sunlight reaching your garden crops.

Cold frame garden propped up-cold frame garden
Prop up top

3. Ventilation- Proper ventilation is a must in order for your plants to remain healthy.  Cold frame garden tops should be propped open when temperatures are warmer during the day.

4. The soil is one of the key components in having a successful cold frame garden so using the right soils as organics and compost is a good way to get your plants off to a great start.

What to Plant?

Here is a list of plants that will do well in your cold-frame garden


  • Garlic
  • Chives
  • Basil
  • Rosemary
  • Parsely
  • Cilantro
  • Oregano
  • Lemon balm
  • Thyme
  • Mint
  • Sage

For more on herbs follow these links. How to grow herbs and garden herbs that contain healing wonders.


Care of cold-frame garden plants

To ensure that your plants will make it through the winter months do as follows.

  • Monitor the soil, the soil should be damp but not waterlogged or soaked
  • If plants need to be watered, water plants during the daytime so that plant leaves will have sufficient time to dry out
  • If your cold frame garden gets too cold, use a material such as straw to cover the glass will help in maintaining the heat
  • If your cold frame garden gets too warm then give it proper ventilation by propping it up as in the photo above
  • It is recommended if your cold frame garden is getting too much sunlight cover the frame with white plastic because too much sunlight will cause excessive growth which is not good for plants doing this time of the year

Other benefits of having a cold-frame garden

  • Get a jump start on the season by planting seeds in pots and placing them in your cold-frame garden
  • Encourage growth of plant cuttings by potting and covering them with straw or sawdust where nighttime temperatures can get extremely cold
  • Great for storing cold-sensitive plants
  • Cold-frame gardens will harden your vegetables

Cold Frame Garden Styles

You may not like the simple garden box style, well the good news is you can become creative as much as you want to as long as you stick to the basics keeping in mind that the goal of these frame gardens is to house or protect your garden plants from the harshness of the elements such as high winds, heavy rains, and the extreme cold.

If you don’t want to build a homemade cold frame garden because of not having the time or for other reasons check with your garden center to see what they have to offer. Cold frame gardens do a really good job of preserving your garden plants as long as the proper steps are followed.

Cold frame gardens come in many sizes as they do in style but an important key here is not to crowd your cold frame garden to the point where your plants can’t receive proper air circulation which is not good for plants. Cold frame gardens should meet your needs as far as the choice of plants and amount of plants these gardens will house.

The final word on cold frame gardens

Installing a cold frame garden can work wonders for your garden plants it is all a matter of knowing what to do. Why should this time of the year hinder or stop you from continuing to grow and care for your crops? Extending the season is made possible with these gardens that will cause you to reap a good harvest. Let’s extend the season and eat fresh all year long.


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About the author

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Norman loves being in the garden, both at home and for his job....
he is 'Natures Little helper' being outdoors, growing his vegetables and flowers from an early age.
Now having spent over 22 years in the profession he want to give some of his knowledge to others...
his vast array of hints and tips you will find scattered over this site will help you no end growing plants in your garden.

5 thoughts on “Cold Frame Garden”

  1. Wow! I have always thought of winter as a time to forget gardening or anything to do with the soil. That’s probably because of the 24″ of snow that usually fell in the regions that I lived. Never even heard of cold frame gardening. Thanks for the info, bro.

  2. I’m in Michigan, so this is an idea I could utilize.

    I tried this once before at our previous house, but kept all the plants in pots. Even with that method, the plants really thrived.

    I’d like to try out this method now, providing dirt that is heaped from the ground up, then covering it with the wood and plexiglass. I’m curious to see how long I can keep things growing into the Michigan winters.

    Thanks for the great idea!!


    • So good to see you and it is so amazing that we can extend the season with these gardens keeping our plants in tip-top shape as we eat fresh from our gardens year round. So happy that I could help. All the best of success and and have  a good day,

  3. This is a very Insightful article.
    I didn’t know a cold frame garden existed until I read your article.
    This would be super helpful. As I live in Norway and the winters can be very harsh. We are sometimes so unfortunate we can get temperatures below -30C.
    Is this also a good tool to use to stop cats from using your garden as an open cat toilet?


    • Hello Theresa so good to meet you and I am so happy that I could help. Cold frame gardens are pretty amazing and do work wonders as for cats it is worth a try, trying won’t hurt. Please let me know how it goes. All the best to you and have a good day.


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