by Texas Homesteader ~
To build a cheap & temporary cold frame for our seedlings we used 3 square bales of hay and a small piece of plexiglass. Come see how I set it up, how I decided where to locate it, etc.
Seed Starting Procedure
I typically have an ‘indoor greenhouse‘ that I use when I plant heirloom seeds in the late winter months. This means I’ll be able to actually put seedlings in my garden come spring instead of planting the seeds directly into the soil later in the season.
But this year I wondered if I should attempt to set up a cold frame to take my plants from tiny seedling to ready to plant.
So to experiment I started looking around for a good southern-exposure location & items I could use to build a temporary cold frame. Then I wondered, “Why not use hay bales?”.
Choosing The Best Cold Frame Location
Our home has a nice brick section that faces south. Here in NE Texas, the late winter sun is still in the southern sky. This will give my cold frame the most light and warmest temperatures.
This location is also right next to one of our rainwater catchment barrels too so it’ll make for easy watering when needed.
Setting Up The Hay Bales
I took 3 square bales of hay and set them next to this section of wall. I sat the two sides up on their edges to make them a little taller, then set the bale between them regularly so it would be just a smidge shorter.
This should give me the angle toward the southern sky that I desire.
To capture the sun’s warmth I need to top it with a clear surface and tilt it toward the southern sky. This will make a warm greenhouse of sorts.
But we didn’t have an old repurposed window or piece of glass to use as many others do. Hummmmm…
Topping Coldframe With Plexiglass
RancherMan looked in the shop and found two pieces of clear plexiglass that was exactly HALF the size I needed. So he used heavy duct tape to temporarily attach them together to make my clear surface.
Now I’m assuming that since plexiglass isn’t as substantial as an actual glass-pane window that my heat transfer and retention won’t be quite as high using it. So I’ll be on the lookout for an old window to use here in future years to increase the efficiency.
I also placed a steel rod across the back hay bales right at the brick wall. This gives a stable surface to lay my plexiglass piece atop the bales.
Because of the way I’d set these three bales up the glass tilts toward the southern sky. Remember, I placed the hay where the sides were taller than the bottom. So it worked perfectly. Yeah, I like it!
Using My Temporary Cold Frame
Now when my tiny seedlings outgrow their small seed-starting space in I can place them here to let them harden off and grow a little larger before placing them in the garden.
I’ll place my seedling tray inside the hay opening and top with the plexiglass. The slanted angle of the plexiglass will trap the sun’s heat inside to keep the seedlings cozy even when the temps are dangerously low and would otherwise damage or kill them.
Materials for Cold Frame Can Be Repurposed
When the danger of the last frost has passed I’ll be ready to drop those babies into the prepared garden soil.
And the beauty is that unlike built wooden structures, my hay bale cold frame is temporary.
If the bales are made of hay I’ll feed them to the cows. Or if those bales are straw I’ll use them for moisture-saving mulch in the garden. One way or the other they go on to another valuable use.
The plexiglass will slide neatly out of the way in the shop again and we’ll be ready to repeat it all next year. Don’t you just love when things are multi-purpose??
My Favorite Garden Hacks
- Easy Garden Planning Spreadsheet
- Getting A Jump: Planting An Indoor Greenhouse
- Repurposed Cardboard Seed-Starting Pots
- 3-Sister’s Garden – The Original Companion Planting
- Planting A Large Galvanized Trough
- Tricking Birds AWAY From Your Strawberry Plants
- Easy Compost For A Healthy Garden
- Propping Tender Seedlings
- Cheap (or FREE) Wood Mulch For The Garden
- Using Vining Plants For Living Mulch
- Homestead Hack: Remember Where You Planted Seeds
- Keeping Potted Plants Watered
- Planting A Blueberry Bush In Galvanized Tub
- Stevia – Growing Your Own Sweetener!
- How I Use EcoBricks In The Garden
- Repurposing A Coffee Can For Deep-Soak Watering
- How Leaves Benefit Your Garden
- My Simple, Zero-Waste Herb Drying Setup
- The Lazy Gardener’s Plant List – Plant Once, Eat For Years!
- How To Tell When Watermelon Is Ripe
- Luffa A Surprising Zucchini Substitute!
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