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Mid September Garden tour 2014

I’ve been a little lax about my blogging here lately.  Seems like there is always a million things to do and I never get around to blogging.  But I was out in the garden last night with the camera so I thought I’d post a few pic’s of how the garden looks here in the middle of September.

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As I walked around the garden last night everything feels a little spent.  It is that time of year and most all of the plants have a burnt out look and feel to them.

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The popcorn has ears growing.  I’ve checked a few and they seem to be filling out well.  We should start to see the stalks dry out soon and the corn will start to ripen!  But it will be at least 2 or 3 months before the ears have dried enough to use.  There really are a lot of ears, I think we will have 30 before we are done.

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The raspberries are still producing.  The patch looks pretty good for a first year patch.  Next year there won’t be any corn stalks shading them so I think it will fill in nicely.

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This is the only celery plant that didn’t bolt to seed.  I think our poor soil really hurt the celery, along with a lot of other plants this year.

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The cucumbers also have that end of season feeling to them.  And they have really slowed down their production the last week or so.

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This kale is looking great!  Now we just need a couple of really cold nights to kill of all the aphids that have set up shop on these plants.

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This Red Russian Kale is one of many small plants we put in about 3 weeks ago.  These won’t really mature until spring and most will be protected by a hoop house most of the winter.

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This is still what most of the tomato plants look like.  All GREEN!  I’ve never had tomatoes ripen so slowly before.  I experimented with planting the tomatoes closer together this year and I don’t think I will try that again!!

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More Green tomatoes!!

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The parsley is looking very good.  We have just started using it in a few dishes.  I’m tempted to put a small hoop over these plants and try to keep them through the winter.

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The basil is getting a little out of hand.  We have been using it all summer and we have kind of grown tired of it and the plant is going to seed.  I need to get out and cut off some leaves and dry them for the winter.

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This is the zucchini bed, it to is looking very spent but it has produced really well and we are starting to get a little tired of zucchini any way!!

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Can you see that little crenshaw melon hiding in the leaves?  There are 8 or 10 that size and I’m afraid they are not going to get finished before the frost.

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The home melon patch has been a big disappointment.  Not a single melon from this patch so far this year.  I think they need more sun!

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The pepper plants are still going strong!  There are another 20 or so peppers growing.

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The fall/Winter spinach crop is coming along.  We have been fighting some leaf minors that past few weeks.  We spent some time over the weekend crushing eggs and pulling off damaged leaves in hopes of bring them under control.

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This bed is now just kind of a mess  of overgrown broccoli, cabbage and kale plants.  All of these (except the kale) will come out this weekend and head for the compost pile.

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The fall broccoli is looking great!  These plants should be ready for harvest in late October or early November.

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This is a site you won’t see next year.  We planted a couple of pumpkins but we have decided they just take up too much space.  So if we plant pumpkins in the future they will have to go up front in a flower bed or something.  But this year they are doing great.  There are 6 nice sized jack-o-lanterns on the way!

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The fall carrots are going to be disappointing.  The major amounts of rain the last 6 weeks really set these guys back.  A lot of the seeds were washed away and the seeds that survived had to struggle through the rain hardened clay.  So I’m thinking that for the first time in 6 years we won’t have many carrots in the winter.

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The fall lettuce is starting to come up.  This is Oak Leaf and will be in a cold frame.

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There are also a couple of nice heads of Nevada lettuce growing as well.  Most of this bed will be planted in a couple of weeks with the seeds we have started indoors.

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And of course one of the high lights of the year has been our strawberries.  You can see they are still growing strong, with lots of blossoms and about 1 1/2 pounds of fruit a week!

Well there you have it.  The Stoney Acres garden in very early fall.  Now we just need those dang tomatoes to ripen!!

 

 

 

 

 

Monday Harvest Report – September 15, 2014

What a beautiful early fall week for us!  Things started out with rain Monday and Tuesday and then it cleared off all week with the temps in the high 70’s and low 80’s.  Just perfect!

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It was an absolutely huge week for produce in the two gardens.  We harvested over 200 pounds between the home and borrowed garden.  The bulk of that came from melons.  The cantaloupe came on like crazy this week. Over 70 pounds!

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Of course there was also watermelon, but I did pick the last two watermelon on Saturday so we are done with the them for the year.  But there are still about 15 cantaloupe to pick.

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In the home garden I decide it was time to harvest the potatoes.   You can see the tops had died back and with all the rain we have been having I was worried that the spuds would start to rot in the ground if we didn’t get them out.

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The harvest wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either.  We got a total of 40 pounds from the 3 short rows, but I was actually hoping for more like 75 pounds.  I think the harvest was really effected by our soil quality.  The new garden space is still in desperate need of compost and other organic material and I think that caused the potato harvest to suffer.

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I spread them out on a table in the garage to cure for a few days.  I like to let them sit and dry out a bit that way I’m not putting them away wet.  The time sitting out also helps the skins to harden up a bit as well and makes everything store longer.  There are a lot of smaller potatoes, in fact the whole harvest consisted of small and medium potatoes, not a single potato that I would consider “baking” size.  We will see how the potatoes from the borrowed garden do.  I’m hoping for a couple hundred pounds from that harvest.

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It was also time to bring in the Mammoth sunflower heads.  It’s hard to see in this photo but the seeds are all plump and striped and the head has turned from green to yellow.

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That means it’s time to cut the heads off and let them dry in the garage for a week or so before we remove and process the seeds.  We are looking forward to having sunflower seeds this winter, this variety is very tasty and we grew them as a snack for us this winter!  Okay I know we won’t get a ton of seeds from these 4 heads, but they are kind of fun to grow and the kids get a kick out of them!

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We had two or three nice little pickings of raspberries this week.  As our patch is in it’s first year we didn’t expect much but I’ve been surprised with how many we have actually harvested this year.

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This is our biggest harvest yet of broccoli side shoots.  I take back everything bad I said about Pac Man broccoli earlier in the year.  Despite having small main heads the side shoot production has been fantastic!  This harvest was 2 pounds and sadly will be our last.  The last two weeks we have had a sudden infestation of aphids and the plants are covered with them.

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This picking immediately went into a brine bath to try and get the aphids out.  But Valerie says that it’s just too big of a pain to mess with so I’m ripping the plants out this week in hopes of getting rid of all the aphids so that we aren’t struggling with them on our fall crop.

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And of course we had the standard late summer harvest this week as well.  Plenty of cucumbers, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes and even another nice harvest of strawberries.

 

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We did manage to scrounge up enough tomatoes to do some more canning this week.  We picked enough on Monday to combine with a harvest last week and we were able to can another six quarts.  That makes a pitiful 8 quarts for the year.  These tomatoes better hurry up and get ripening we are down to about 2 weeks before our first threat of frost!!

Here’s this weeks totals:

Home Garden
Cucumbers – 5.25 lbs
Zucchini – 5.5 lbs
Tomatoes – 11.75 lbs
Broccoli – 2.5 lbs
Potatoes – 40 lbs
Raspberries – .25 lbs
Strawberries – 1.5 lbs
Peppers – 2 lbs
Total – 68.75 lbs

Leo’s Garden

Cantaloupe – 71.75 lbs
Watermelon – 76.50 lbs
Total – 148.25 lbs

That brings our annual total for the home garden to 366 pounds and the annual total for the borrowed garden is 400 pounds.  I’m sure that combined we will easily go over 1000 pounds for the year!!  But my goal for the home garden was 775 pounds and I’m thinking we are not going to hit that mark.  That’s still over 300 pounds to go.  We do have 6 large pumpkins and a few smaller ones on the way along with hopefully 100 pounds more of tomatoes.  But I’m starting to doubt we will have a total of 300.  Well see!!

We will be joining several blog hops this week including the Tuesday Garden Party at an Oregon Cottage, Garden Tuesday at Sidewalk Shoes, The Homestead Barn Hop at The Prairie Homestead and of course the Monday Harvest Report at Daphne’s Dandelions!

Monday Harvest Report September 8, 2014

It was a very pleasant weather week.  Temps were mostly in the low 80’s, with a little rain here and there.  We are moving into my very favorite time of the year!  I love the early fall with it’s cool temperatures and lots of harvests.  I was really bad at taking pictures this week so I missed a lot of the huge harvest we had.

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Let’s start out with the giant harvest we had from the borrowed garden this week.  Melons, melons , melons!!  We harvest over 100 pounds of water melon and cantaloupe this week.

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Lucky for us all the neighbors that committed to buy melons from us have come through in a big way.  Between our own eating and the neighbors buying from us every melon we picked this week is gone!  That kitchen counter is currently empty!!  But I haven’t been down to the borrowed garden since Friday so I’m sure I will fill the counter back up tomorrow!!  The cantaloupe are coming on like crazy!!  I lost count of how many we harvest this week but I’m sure it was at least 20.

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We finally had a decent sized picking of tomatoes.  But they are still really slow to ripen.  This box has 9.50 pounds of tomatoes, our biggest picking yet along with some cucumbers, peppers and raspberries!!

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The last of the onions were finished curing on Saturday so I cleaned them up and got them ready for storage.  These are the copra onions and they are meant for long term storage.  Most of these onions will last us until early next summer!!  I was disappointed by the size of these onions.  Most of the bulbs were smaller than a baseball which is not usual for copra.  But given the condition of the soil in the new garden I’m fairly happy we even got a crop.  This box is right at 20 pounds so our total for the year between the two types we grew was 46 pounds.  That should be enough to hold us over till next year!!

Here’s this weeks totals for both gardens:

Home Garden
Cucumbers – 4.25 lbs
Peppers – .75 lbs
Tomatoes – 9.50 lbs
Zucchini – 2.60 lbs
Strawberries – 1 lbs
Broccoli – 1.75 lbs
Raspberries – .25 lbs
Onions – 20.50 lbs
Total – 40.60 lbs

Borrowed Garden
Watermelon – 62 lbs
Cantaloupe – 42 lbs
Corn – 2 lbs
Total – 106 lbs

Grand Total   – 146.60 pounds

That brings the home garden total to 297 pounds and the grand total to 550 pounds for the year!

We will be joining several blog hops this week including the Tuesday Garden Party at an Oregon Cottage, Garden Tuesday at Sidewalk Shoes, The Homestead Barn Hop at The Prairie Homestead and of course the Monday Harvest Report at Daphne’s Dandelions!

Monday Harvest Report – September 1, 2014

Welcome to September!  As I’ve said before, August was a strange weather month.  It was very cool all month with very few days in the 90’s.  On top of that we had alot of rain.  Those conditions combined to make a very weird garden month.

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The tomatoes are weeks behind.  I asked around in my Master Gardener group and everyone in Utah is having the same trouble we are.  Lot’s of fruit and no ripening!  By this time last year we had canned 20 or more quarts of tomatoes.  So far this year we have had enough tomatoes do only 2 quarts.  The weather for the coming week is supposed to warm back to the mid 80’s and dry out.  So lets hope that we get some ripening done.

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The corn didn’t seem to mind the cool.  We have had a great harvest from the borrowed garden.  115 ears of corn means we have been eating corn for almost every meal for the last 2 weeks and we have about 36 ears frozen for the winter.

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The melons are finally ripening.  71 pounds of water melon for the week and the first cantaloupe of the season.

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The biggest melon in this photo is a new variety to our garden.  It’s called moon & stars.  They are by far the biggest melons of the year.  This one came in at 18 pounds.  We will get a total of 3 melons from one hill.

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Here’s what they look like on the inside.  This one may have been a tad over ripe.  But it was sweet and juicy!  Notice the HUGE seeds?  I’ve never grown a melon with this big of seeds.  At first I thought, what a pain but it turns out the big seeds were easier to find and get out than traditional melons.  This good tasting melon has found a spot in our garden!

So what are doing with all these melons?  I’ve been selling them to around the neighborhood.  All the proceeds will go to improving our home garden with raised beds!!

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It was a great week for cucumbers.  Here’s Saturdays harvest along with the only tomatoes for the week.  We made a batch of refrigerator pickles and canned 3 pints of pickles as well.  But most of our almost 8 pounds of cucumbers were eaten fresh!

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We also had nice picking of strawberries this week.

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The first real picking of peppers came early in the week.  Along with the peppers we had the biggest harvest yet of broccoli side shoots.  I guess the cool weather did pay off a little!!

Here’s this weeks totals:

Home Garden
Cucumbers – 7.75 lbs
Tomatoes – 3.25 lbs
Zucchini – 1.25 lbs
Strawberries – 1.25 lbs
Peppers – 1.25 lbs
Broccoli 1.75 lbs
Beans – .15 lbs
Total – 16.65 lbs

Borrowed Garden
Corn Ears – 42
Corn – 21 lbs
Watermelon – 71 lbs
Cantaloupe – 2 lbs
Total – 94 lbs

Grand Total – 110.65 lbs

That brings our home garden total to 257 pounds and the borrowed garden to 146 pounds!!

We will be joining several blog hops this week including the Tuesday Garden Party at an Oregon Cottage, Garden Tuesday at Sidewalk Shoes, The Homestead Barn Hop at The Prairie Homestead and of course the Monday Harvest Report at Daphne’s Dandelions!

Monday Harvest Report – August 25, 2014

Wow, what a weird week for August!  Not that I’m complaining but it was a very unusual week for this time of year.  It rained 3 days this week and the cold fronts kept the temperatures way down.  We had low 80’s and even some 70’s all week.  With the same forecast for this week.  It has been great to have a break from the heat but it sure has slowed down the garden.  I expected to have a huge week with tomatoes and melons but everything seemed to stall!

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That’s not to say we didn’t have anything this week.  We actually harvested over 70 pounds, just not the melons and tomatoes I had hoped for.  We did have these two small melons that ended up being ready.  Only 4.5 and 2.5 pounds, the larger is a crimson sweet the smaller a sugar baby.

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We also pick our very first raspberries from the new patch!  These are Caroline’s.  I don’t expect more than a few handfuls this year but the patch is looking very good and I’m sure it will take off like crazy next year!!

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And speaking of berries, more strawberries again this week.  This picking was larger than I expected.  The strawberries keep surprising us with these big pickings!  You also see another handful of raspberries.

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The Candy onions finished curing this week so Valerie and I cleaned up them up and brought them inside to the cooler basement.

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We like to store them in these mesh bags and hang them in the garage for the winter, but the garage is currently still pretty warm so we moved them to a dark corner in the basement until October when the garage cools off.  We also got the Copra onions harvested this week and they are now in the garage curing.  I’m hoping to do a little tutorial on onions later this week so look for that article on Wednesday or Thursday.

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We were gone for most of the weekend and we came back a pretty decent harvest of tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini was waiting for us.  Now if it will just warm up a bit so that we are getting harvests this size every other day instead of once a week.

Not pictured this week was another great harvest of broccoli side shoots and 65 ears of corn from Leo’s garden!  The corn is just rolling in right now we are eating it and freezing it as fast as we can.

Here’s this weeks totals:
Cucumbers – 2.50 lbs
Zucchini – 3.25 lbs
Tomatoes – 5.25 lbs
Strawberries – 1.25 lbs
Broccoli – 1.50 lbs
Basil – .15 lbs
Onions – 23 lbs
Home Garden Total – 36.90 lbs

Borrowed Garden
Watermelon – 7 lbs
Sweet Corn – 32.50 lbs (65 Ears)
Total – 39.50 lbs

That brings our home garden total to 240 pounds, the borrowed garden is at 52 pounds and our grand total is 292 pounds!!

We will be joining several blog hops this week including the Tuesday Garden Party at an Oregon Cottage, Garden Tuesday at Sidewalk Shoes, The Homestead Barn Hop at The Prairie Homestead and of course the Monday Harvest Report at Daphne’s Dandelions!

Building a garden cold frame

So writing this post has been on my to do list for two years!  It took my guest post on the Bakerette today, to finally get me to get it done.  So today’s post is a tutorial on how to build a 4 x 8 cold frame with four 2 x 4 plexi glass lids.  The original design for this cold frame came from Eliot Coleman’s book Four Season harvests.  Over the last 5 years I have built 9 of these and each time I tweaked the design a bit.  I’m pretty happy with the design as I’m going to show it to you today.  The biggest improvement I made was adding a bolt and nut to each of the 4 corners of the box so that when you are not using the cold frames they will easily break down for storage.  So let’s get started!

Building a cold frame - Chop Saw

My suggestion is to get your hands on a couple of tools that will make your job much easier.  The first is a chop saw.  There are a lot of repetitive cuts in this project and a chop saw makes quick work of those cuts.

Building a Cold Frame - Table Saw

Second a table saw.  Using a table saw allows you to buy 2 x 4 lumber and cut it to the 2 x 2 pieces you need.  2 x 4’s are always much straighter than 2 x 2’s so your finished product is much better.

 

You will also need an electric skill saw and some type of electric drill.

Here’s a list of materials you will need:
4 – 2″ x 4″ eight foot boards
2 – 2″ x 12″ eight foot boards
1 – 2″ x 8″ eight foot board
3 – 1/2′ x 2″ eight foot trim pieces (these are basically scrap)
4 – 2′ x 4′ pieces of plexi glass
8 – 3/8″ bolts and nuts. The bolts should be 4 inches long
15 – 3″ deck screws
40 – 1 1/2″ deck screws
8- hooks and eye bolts (if your cold frames are going to be in a high wind area)

I choose to make my cold frames from Douglas fir, so far they have lasted 5 years but are reaching the end of their life.  Fir is 1/3 the cost of cedar or redwood so it just depends on how cost sensitive you are.  Cedar & Redwood would probably last twice as long.

A few shop safety notes for you.  Please be sure to wear eye and ear protection while you are working and please be sure you understand how to use your power tools, a new cold frame isn’t worth a finger or an eye!!  This project is pretty basic and I think most people with a good understanding of carpentry can pull it off.  For me the work from start to finish took between 3 to 4 hours.  When my son helps, we can get one done in maybe 2 1/2.  But if you are a beginner you may want to plan a whole Saturday.

Building a cold frame - Angled cuts

Step 1:  Cut one of the 2″ x 12″ boards exactly in half with the skill saw.  Then again using the skill saw cut each of those resulting 4 foot boards at an angle starting at 12 inches at the back and down to 8 inches in front.  For some reason when I did this project I forgot to take a picture of this step.  But you can see the end result in the picture above.  The top of each piece angles down from back to front.

Building a Cold frame - Ripping side boards

 

Step 2:  Using your table saw rip all of the 2 x 4’s into 1 1/2 wide pieces.  So you will end up with eight- 8 foot boards that are 1 1/2 inches wide.

Step 3:  Again on the table saw turn two of these boards on their sides and rip them so that they are 1 inch tall.  The resulting boards will be 1 1/2 inches wide and 1 inch tall.  This cut also leaves you with a couple of long 1/2 inch strips of scrap.  Hang on to these.

Building a Cold Frame - Cutting sides

Step 4:  Using your chop saw cut the two remaining 1 1/2 inch boards exactly in half (48 inches).  This gives you 8 four foot pieces.  These are the long sides of your lids.

Step 5:  Again on your chop saw cut the 1 inch by 1 1/2 inch boards in to 22 7/8 inch pieces.  The resulting 8 pieces are the short sides of your tops.

Building a Cold frame - Cutting the channel

Step 6:  This is the tricky part.  You need to use your table saw to cut a 1/4 inch channel into all 8 of the 4 foot side boards from Step 4.  The bottom of the channel needs to be exactly 1 inch from the bottom of the board.  This channel is for your plexi glass to set in.  You will probably need to run each piece through the saw twice moving the saw rail a little on the second cut to widen the channel.  Check that your cut is wide enough by trying to run your plexi glass through the channel.  The cut only needs to be about a half inch deep.

Building a Cold Frame - Pre Drill

Step 7:  I’m all about pre-drilling!!  There is nothing more frustrating than splitting a piece while your assembling.  So pre-drill two holes in each end of the side pieces.  I like to use a 3/8 inch counter sink bit for this so that the screw heads will be recessed.

Building a Cold Frame - Assemble tops

Step 8:  Assemble the lids by attaching the long pieces to the shorter.  Remember that the shorter pieces are assembled so that the glass will sit on top of them in the channel.

Step 9:  Cut the plexi glass to length and width.  Your plexi glass pieces will be a little too wide and tall to fit in the frames.  Take measurements of each frame and then cut the pieces using your table saw.  An alternative to this would be to build your frames before you buy the plexi glass and then have the plexi glass cut to the proper length and width by the store where you purchase the glass.  Both Lowe’s and Home Depot will do it for you.  I cut mine to 46 1/2″ x 22 3/4″ but I would really suggest you wait to cut until you have the lids assembled.  That way you don’t mess it up, that glass is expensive so you don’t want to cut a $28 piece of plexi glass too short!!

Building a cold frame - stop block

Step 10:  Add a stop Block to hold the glass in.  This can be as fancy or simple as you like.  I usually run a piece of scrap through the table saw to create a small notch for the glass.  Then I cut that piece into 8 smaller pieces and attach with a screw.  But on some of my lids I simply put a screw at each end to hold the glass in place.  The important part here is to keep the glass from sliding out either end.

Building a Cold Frame - Add the glass

Step 11:  Slide the glass into the lids.  The glass should slide easily into the channel you created in Step 6.  The glass should overlap about 3/4 of an inch at each end.  Add the second stop block and your tops are finished.

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Step 12:  Cut 4 pieces of scrap 2 x 4.  Two pieces are 8″ long and two are 12″ long.  This step is the change I made that allows the frame to come apart easily.    Set the 2 x 4 pieces flush in the corner and then drill 2 holes, one towards the top the other towards the bottom.  The hole should be wide enough for the bolts you bought and goes through both the frame piece and the scrap.

Building A Cold Frame - Install Bolts

Once the holes are drilled install the bolts.

Building a Cold Frame - Side Screws

Then put three 3″ deck screws in from the side.  The screws go into the scrap piece.  Repeat at all 4 corners.  Now when you are ready to take the frame apart at the end of the season all you need to do is undo and remove the bolts at each corner and the frame will come apart!!

Building a Cold Frame - Stretcher notch

Step 13:  Next cut a notch in the center of the front and back of the frame.

Building a Cold frame - Add Stretcher

Install your last 1 1/2″ x 4 foot piece as a stretcher and stiffener for the frame.  This piece is also handy for lifting and carrying the frame.

Building a Cold Frame - Scrap

Step 14:  This step is optional but I like to take some of the 1/2 inch scrap pieces that are left over and attach them to the bottom edges of the frame.  This is where the wood comes in contact with the ground the most.  This piece of scrap adds some separation between the frame and the ground and helps to keep the wood of the frame from rotting as fast.  You can even replace this scrap piece every few years.

Building A Cold Frame - Hooks

Step 15:  This is also an optional step.  You can add some type of hook or fastener to each of the cold frame lids.  Do this if you frames will be in a windy area and you are worried about them blowing off in the wind.  Only one of my frames has this option added and I have really never had a problem.  The frames are very low profile and usually don’t get caught in the wind.

Building a cold frame - the finished product

Well there you have it!  As easy as one, two, three . . . fifteen!  Okay so it’s not easy, but it really isn’t that difficult either.  For around $130.00 you can have your own 4 x 8 cold frame!  If you live in Utah and don’t feel like making one of these yourself I’d be happy to build one for you.  I usually charge materials plus labor so the cost would be right around $275,  contact me at rick@ourstoneyacres.com for more info!!

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