1. Should I put my new cold frame in the sun or in the shade?
2. Also what is the best base - slabs, shingle, wood or what?
Jane, I have mine in part shade. If you have it in full sun, that's fine but you will have to make sure you open it on sunny days as they can get very hot inside.
In my opinion, the best base is sharp sand, grit or gravel and a good 6 inches deep. That way you can bury or part-bury your pots which means less watering and helps protect from frost over the winter.
Thanks very much. That has helped me decide where to put it and also what base to use. Gravel on a weed surpressant fabric base will also be cheaper for me than slabs. (It is being delivered tomorrow).
It depends on the purpose of the cold frame. It can be used to warm soil in spring, allowing seeds such as carrot to germinate earlier, giving an earlier harvest. It can also be used as a mini green house to raise seeds in trays and modules. And it can be used to shelter semi hardy plants from frost. Lastly it can be used to wean plants raised in warmth before putting them out i.e. harden them off. Why not start out in a sunny area, warming a bed, then move it about as need be? I have carrot and spring onion germinating in soil under mine, whereas carrot in beds are still not up. And I raised seed in modules too. In june mine will shelter chillis. The extra shelter makes a big difference. At the moment I can keep the panels closed during the day without issues, but in summer of course they must be opened.
You didn't say what it is made from. If it is light, then take care. One of mine flew 20m across the garden. You must make sure it is pegged down if light e.g. al and plastic. Glass ones are okay obviously. Incidentally one of mine came from Lidl, it is very very good value for money, better than ones costing twice as much in local,garden centres. My Halls one is fabulous.
Thanks for these idea Leif. I do need it for different things - first growing on seedlings, then French beans, then maybe bringing on lettuce and in the winter overwintering stuff. I have never had a proper one before - this is strong glass and aluminium I paid a bit more because my cheap plastic one kept blowing away in the strong winds.
After your advice I will try and write down a plan for using it so that I can keep it fully occupied during the year.
That makes two of us! I need to work out how to get the most out of mine. It is worth getting a nice one, in my opinion.