A few weeks back I built a hoop house for helping get some of my early spring greens started and that went well and now is covering lots of little plants that seem quite happy! However, for plants that I can’t risk leaving out overnight (like peppers, tomatoes, tomatillos, ground cherries, eggplants, etc) I need an easy way to keep them outside and slowly harden them off (acclimate them to outdoor life). My (cheap) solution is to use more painter’s plastic and duct tape!
All you need is a (garage sale/craigslist/kjiji) shelf, some painter’s plastic, and duct tape. Hopefully you can use something you already have in your basement which is what I did two years ago when I made mine. A quick search on kijiji.ca just now yielded many promising results with a filter of < $15. You want to check dimensions to make sure your standard 12″ x 24″ seedling trays will fit. It’s also important to have shelves spaced far enough apart to accommodate tall seedlings.
- painter’s plastic (clear or opaque)
- duct tape
- clothes pins
- a straight stick or piece of wood as wide as the shelf
- weights (optional)
Cover three of the four sides with the plastic and then connect the front piece of plastic separately from the others, and only tape it at the top. Roll up the bottom of the plastic around a straight stick and tape the plastic to help weigh it down (this also helps to stiffen the front piece of plastic to help it hang straight) and use clothespins to clip the corners to the rest of the shelf so that it doesn’t blow around too much. You can also put some weights on the bottom shelf to help prevent it from blowing over in windy weather. On warmer days I leave the front open and on cooler days I shut if. If I know that there’s no chance of a freeze or near-freeze I will leave the plants overnight, but usually just to be safe I bring them inside at dusk.
I don’t have pics of the “construction” of this coldframe because I made it two years ago (you can see the rust on it). It’s lasted fine and survived the month-long journey in our Pods shipping container (I don’t recommend Pods for international moves) from Atlanta, GA to Kitchener, ON. It gets nice and hot if left closed on a sunny day and
looks great too works great!
Another great idea comes from Soulsby Farm in Ohio.
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