Cold Frame Winter Prep

Our average first frost date is still a few weeks away, but I decided it was time to get the cold frames ready for winter. I’ve used several different materials to cover my cold frames over the years, and I am currently using Agribon AG-19 row cover material. On the cold frame covers this material usually needs replacing once a year, and now is a great time to do it, before the cold winds of autumn and winter start blowing.

cold frame cover

cold frame cover

I took some ‘before’ photos to show the cold frames before I started working on them. The cold frame in the above photo is planted with spinach, arugula and lettuce. The cover is in fairly good shape on it, but I am going to replace it anyway. You never know what winter will bring, and I want the cold frames to be as well  prepared as I can get them.

bird netting covering kale

bird netting covering kale

The next cold frame is planted with Beedy’s Camden and Red Ursa kale. I’m using a hoop system made of PVC pipes and rebar to support bird netting over it. I will replace the netting with Agribon as the weather gets colder. I am hoping to overwinter these plants, and hopefully save seeds from one of the kale varieties.

this cover is in bad shape

this cover is in bad shape

The third cold frame is planted with kohlrabi and lettuce. The cover on it is in pretty bad shape, as you can see in the above photo. I will be replanting the beds as the current occupants are harvested, probably with more spinach and lettuce. The last of my four cold frames is planted in basil and I didn’t include it in the photo lineup.

cold frame covered with bird netting

cold frame covered with bird netting

I removed the old Agribon from the two cold frame covers I wanted to repair. The first one has bird netting over it, which makes a good material if all you are trying to do is keep out birds and other critters. That’s sometimes all I use in summer, and it works well for me.

cold frame after recovering with Agribon

cold frame after recovering with Agribon

I put the Agribon on right over the top of the bird netting. I like to cut the row cover material a bit oversized so I can fold it over and under the wood frame of the cover. I’ve found that helps to keep the material from blowing loose from the wooden frame. The other cold frame doesn’t have the bird netting on it, but I covered it with the Agribon in the same fashion, stapling with an office stapler. I could use a heavier staple with a staple gun, but then I usually replace these every year and the thinner office staples are easier to remove. You can see how I tuck the material under the frame in the below photo. I have found that when the winds start howling, it is best to have the material secured as well as possible.

another view of Agribon covered cold frame lid

another view of Agribon covered cold frame lid

I hope this been informative for those folks who are thinking about getting their cold frames ready for winter. I know that in areas with colder winter weather gardeners will likely be using something like glass or Plexiglas for cover material instead of the Agribon. So how do you all get your cold frames ready for winter? I’d love to hear about it!

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6 Responses to Cold Frame Winter Prep

  1. Daphne says:

    Doesn’t the Agribon rip when it has the weight of the snow on it? At least the ones that don’t have the bird netting under it to hold it up?
    Daphne recently posted…Sweet Potatoes OutMy Profile

    • Dave says:

      I’ve not had a problem with the Agribon tearing. It does sag though if we get a really heavy wet snow. But then we don’t normally get a lot of snow in winter. If we did I think I would have to reinforce the lids with another strip of wood, or else use a different material for the cover.

  2. Echo Wu says:

    For the summer usage of bird netting to keep out birds and critters, is the bird netting stapled onto the cold frame? How do you attach the bird net on it? I am having trouble with woodchucks eating veggies in the cold frame and it is still a bit too warm to put the official cold frame cover on it.

    • Dave says:

      Yes, I just staple bird netting on the wooded frame of the cold frame lid. You can also just staple it on the cold frame itself. We have woodchucks, deer and rabbits galore here and the netting keeps them all out!

  3. Margaret says:

    I’m so envious of anyone with a cold frame – I can’t wait to get caught up (and better at) the “normal” garden stuff so that I can put some effort into extending the season.
    Margaret recently posted…Onions 2014 – The ResultsMy Profile

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