Friday, March 9, 2012

Cold Frames for Desert Gardening

A cold frame very similar to mine.
The cold north is where you would typically expect to find cold frames utilized in the garden.  Where it is cold they do a great job of protecting frost sensitive plants in early spring or late fall.  They can also serve as a greenhouse, warming things up so seeds germinate sooner and grow quicker.  In the south though were freezing temperatures are rarely an issue I know of only a few gardeners that ever utilize clod frames.  This winter however I made a make-shift cold frame/mini greenhouse in hopes of speeding up the growth of my late start garden.  As I mentioned in a previous post, someone killed my entire garden at home and I had to start everything over again in late November.  Far too late for growing anything productively.  So out of desperation I bought some cheep clear plastic, covered the garden with it, and propped it up 12 inches or so with sticks.  It was sort of a ghetto cold frame but it worked really well.  The cold frame was entirely closed in order to trap heat inside.  This resulted in the seeds germinating very quickly compared to seeds planted at the same time without the cold frame.  Moisture was also trapped inside and I had to water the garden a fraction of the times I would have needed to if the garden wasn’t covered.  The heat and higher humidity also sped-up growth of the seedlings significantly.  The loss of a dead garden in the end of November was quickly redeemed by these simple cold frames.  I am already planning to use them next winter.  I am guessing that utilizing the cold frames earlier in November could speed up growth and increase production a lot. 

Advantages of using a cold frame in the desert or warm south
  • Protection from infrequent freezing temperatures
  • Moisture retention so watering needs are greatly reduced 
  • Increased humidity which increases plant growth
  • Increased temperature which speeds up germination and plant growth
  • Overall increased productivity!

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