Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Earth Friendly Cold Frames

For two years in a row, the Ozarks has experienced a late in the season spring frost. The frost was far enough along to cause damage to crops that had been placed out in early spring, as well as some things like fruit tree blossoms. The typical advise you get on the evening news goes something like this: “better cover those plants tonight!”

What if there was an alternative? Indeed, that is the question. Earth friendly cold frames can be one such alternative. There are essentially two items needed to build a good earth friendly cold frame: an old window frame (glass intact) and some straw bales. It does not get much easier than this.

A straw based cold frame has some very distinct advantages over other options: 1) the straw is stacked end to end, and does not have to be “constructed,” 2) straw is one of nature’s best insulators, 3) it is “earth friendly’ in that is will eventually decompose, and can be added back to the soil, or into a composting bin. This also gives you the advantage of not having to store a lot of items in the off season.

Now is the time to plan for spring. A 4’ x 8’ plot will need 6 bales, plus windows to cover. Old windows can often be found in flea markets, garage sales, thrown in trash, etc. Start looking now.

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