COLD FRAME

Useful both for raising from seed and for bringing along seedlings. Lettuce sown in a frame in the autumn will survive the winter and provide a tender salad earlier in the spring than otherwise possible. There is not a great deal in the making and it is more than worth the trouble, especially where there is no greenhouse. Adjust the size to a couple of old window frames which can sometimes be picked up for very little. If constructing from the start, make a wooden frame 6 ft. by 8 ft. of a height of 1 ft. in front and 18 in. at the back. The depth from back to front will be 6 ft. the width being to accommodate two lights, each 4 ft. wide, which makes lifting for airing much easier than if in one piece. The sides, of course, will be made to slope to meet the height of the back. When put together get everything firm as possible. The ‘lights’ are laid on, not fastened, as they are taken off or raised to give air when there is no frost. The trouble of making the glazed tops of the cold frame can be avoided by getting a pair second-hand, but old window frames are much cheaper.

To use, put a layer of rough earth at base, after digging out to about 1 ft., and press down. To increase space between soil and glass light, set frame on a layer of turves to about 1 ft. This allows it to be used for the taller plants. See also PORTABLE LIGHT.

Seed sown in the frame will germinate more surely than in the open and the seedlings not get broken by winds; but take care to give air for a time each day so as to avoid the danger of damping off, a greater cause of losing seedlings than frost.

Early vegetables can be secured by sowing and bringing on in a cold frame so as to be well ahead for planting out as soon at the harder frosts go.

The hardy vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, lettuces, peas etc. will germinate a month earlier than in the open.

Over the rough earth, make a good soil bed, the 7 parts of which should be 4 of garden loam, 1 of manure from a spent hotbed, or well rotted, 1 of peat moss and rather less than one part sand. Where manure cannot be readily obtained use a half-part of hop manure. Make this up in January and fill to depth of 6 in. in frame, protect from wet and let settle for a fortnight; take light off when fine. In this bed sowings and culture of whatever is wanted can follow the same lines for the same products as INTENSIVE CULTURE .

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