Creating A Cozy Coldframe to
Successfully Spread Out Seedlings

They're Too Big
If you want to have more or bigger plants you will have to move beyond the light table in the basement. You cannot readily grow larger tomato plants under the fluorescent light system. It is certainly the place to start but when those little plants get moved into larger pots you need more space and light.

cold frame Easy To Buy Or Build
A greenhouse would be ideal and I used to have one but now I work quite successfully with a structure that most gardeners would call a ‘coldframe.’ Again these items are readily available in knock-down form in the major seed catalogues but those of us who are cheap and handy will readily build one that is bigger, possibly better and that fits perfectly into that space beside the garage.

Made To Catch Light
The basic requirements are a thin frame structure that will hold some translucent covering. That covering can be as simple as poly sheeting from a building supply store. It needs to have an angled top part that faces south and/or west to get the maximum sunlight and it needs to have a top that opens to allow you to put in the plants, water them and let in cool air on the days when the sun heats it up excessively.

cold frame

Heating And Cooling
To make mine even more useable, I have a heating cable in the sand/gravel floor. (This technically makes it a ‘hot frame’.) This keeps the soil of each of my tomato plants warm and thus allows me to have them out there, even earlier in the spring. This frees up the space under my lights for other crops. The heating cable is plugged into a thermostat so that the soil doesn’t get too hot and the roof opening is automated so that the plants don’t get fried on sunny days that I’m not there to open it.

Each of these little things adds to the cost of the operation and none of them is absolutely necessary. A basic cold frame that will keep your plants protected from the cold nights of early spring by warming up during the day will be an excellent addition to your indoor light table.

cold frame

Room For More
Just be warned that this gardening thing can be a bit addictive. Every year, it’s so easy to just add a little more space to the garden and one more improvement to the lights and cold frame. The cold frame itself is just an improvement over the indoor light trays. In October while cleaning up, it is quite common to hear us mutter about cutting back next year.

Then comes the seed catalogues!

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