Cold Frame on a Budget

I have a two tiered raised bed that happens to be five feet long and four feet wide, each tier being two feet wide on its own. I usually plant tomatoes in the upper level and lettuce in the lower level.
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Last year I found someone selling an old window that fit perfectly over one of my 2×5 raised beds and I bought it for $10. Instant cold bed!

Switching things up for 2014, I planted cucumbers, onion, lettuce and spinach in the upper tier in late April and covered the whole lot with the two-pane glass window.

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It’s been cool on and off since then but we’ve also had some fairly warm days when the temperature in the improvised cold frame gets rather balmy, encouraging those seeds to germinate long before they might elsewhere in the garden. The result? Hopefully I’ll be eating my lettuce 2-3 weeks before my neighbors.

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Building A Simple Raised Bed Planter :)

Every now and again I get called upon to help build something for a friend. I guess it’s because my girlfriends don’t have all the tools I do, or maybe it’s because I have more experience than most in my social circle.

This week a good friend showed me a picture of a Costco raised bed planter she thought she might buy. For $190 she could buy a set of two plastic snap-together beds that would give her 32 square feet of usable garden space. The 4’x4′ planters didn’t ideally suit her needs, as she didn’t really want to give up that much lawn space.

I convinced her that for 1/3 the cost she could have a lovely cedar planter, made to whatever dimensions she liked.

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I sent her to the lumber depot with a shopping list:
4x 2x6x10′ cedar boards (for sides)
1x 2x6x8′ cedar board (for ends) cut into 4 two foot lengths

I looked through my things and found:
2 1/2″ zinc wood screws
An old stair rail which I cut into six 2x2x11″ pieces

We met at her place and got started. I’ve built a number of these sort of beds, but I have to say that having someone to help is a real treat.

With her holding each 2×2 in place, I screwed two screws into each board, fastening them to the corner post.

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After the first layer was complete, we began the same process with the second level. I like to alternate the overlap of the boards so that the planter looks the same from all angles. It also provides more strength to the joints.

Since this raised bed is ten feet long, we added two more posts halfway along the length to pull the boards together and support them. Easy peasy.

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In a half hour we were done with the project; I doubt she could have put the plastic planters from Costco together any quicker. And the custom built cedar planter looks awesome.

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