I don't have room for a greenhouse but keep hearing that coldframes are also useful. Are they just for tender plants to over winter or will I be able to sow seeds in pots then keep them in a cold frame?
Cold frames are very useful for holiding plants in pots that need protection from extreme weathers (wind and excess rain) to holding young plants that are too small to plant out in autumn/spring. Also, a place where cuttings could be stored, but only plants that can tolerate cold conditions but not frosty conditions. So, not always ideal for all plants. Think of it like a mini unheated greenhouse. But beware, the glass cover can over-heat plants if the sun is out. So, it's just as important to keep ventilation and open the tops to avoid over-heating when the sun is out. Great to have if you don't have a greenhouse.
I don't want to lose garden space to a greenhouse, so I have a mini-greenhouse against the house wall a bit like this one https://www.shedstore.co.uk/gardening/greenhouses/grow-plus-wooden-mini-greenhouse-4-by-2 and I use it as a sort of cold frame.
As has been said, care over ventilation is vital
If you're into seed sowing and taking cuttings, one is really useful for hardening off and growing on.Mine is up against the house wall to take advantage of any warmth,and l use fleece over the top in cold weather. If it gets really cold, I line it with big pieces of white polystyrene cut to fit. As others have said, you need to keep an eye on ventilation and watering.
If you want to give it a try you could always try advertising for one on freecycle,etc.
Cold frames are ideal for plants seedlings and cuttings that do not need heat, they need to be watched though as temperature can rise quickly if the sun gets on them. Ground level temperature is always a few degrees higher as covered soil will hold the heat. If the frame is against a brick wall the wall will give back heat at night too.
Mine always had a full opening top glass (old windows) that could be propped up in the morning and closed at night. In winter, some bubble wrap or blanket would go on the top weighed down with bricks when frost was due. They do not take the place of a heated greenhouse but are very good for some plants that are not frost hardy but do not need a lot of heat.
A warning always read the seed packet or look it up in a book as some seeds need heat others do not and the heat needed to germinate can vary, it can mean the loss of seed if not heeded.
Last edited: 30 December 2017 10:41:16