Cold Frames And Their Management

In the South cold frames are in use all winter. The principal winter crops grown are lettuce, radishes, beets, cauliflower and occasionally cabbage, while these crops are commonly followed in spring by cucumbers, cantaloups and sometimes Irish potatoes. The frames are easily made. Rough inch lumber (heart pine is best in the South, and hemlock in the North) and 2 x 4 or 2 x 3-inch scantling are all that is required. For the double frames, strips 3 inches wide and or Y* inch thick, long enough to extend across the frame, should be provided for rafters. The back or north side of the single frame should be 12 or 15 inches high, while the front should slope down to 8 inches. In Southern practice, where canvas covers are used, the back should be 2^ feet and all cracks should be well covered with building paper, held in place by laths tacked over it.

Good treatment for the posts used in construction is to dip them in kerosene over night. This will preserve them indefinitely. Drive the posts into the ground 18 inches and let them extend upward to the top of the boards, putting a post at the union of each pair of boards and nailing them to it. All ends and rafters may be made so that they can be quickly removed, so that the frames can be plowed and the ground prepared with a mule. The sides of the double frames are best made I foot high, with the ends sloping upward to feet. Down the center of the frame, a row of 2 x 4-incif posts 2^ feet above ground are set 8 feet apart.

Over each one of these a rafter is bent and fastened to the sides of the frames.

For cold frames in the North, glass is the only covering to be thought of. By all means, put the frames up facing the south or southeast and to afford protection against the north and northwest winds, cold the country over, a high wall, a thick hedge, or a piece of thick woodland should be close at the back of them.

The soil in the frames should be thoroughly prepared, rich and pulverized thoroughly. An abundance of well-rotted stable manure should be used; if thoroughly decomposed, at the rate of 75 to 100 tons an acre is not excessive, unless the soil is already very rich. Whether glass or canvas is used as a covering great attention must be given to water and ventilation. The land should be well drained that no water will stand, or the soil become water logged; that is one side of the water question, but in addition, the plants should be carefully watered from time to time to provide sufficient for their needs.

If the coverings are kept down too constantly, the growth of the plants will be weak and spindling and such diseases as damping off, Botrytis and drop will work havoc with them. Careful attention to watering, ventilation and keeping the surface of the ground stirred are the genuine secrets of controlling these pests. Watch the temperature, do not let it rise too high, lower it by raising the sash or drawing back the covers. The canvas covers should be drawn back a portion of every day when the temperature is not too low, and at other times-the ends may be raised, to allow the air to circulate under them. A sharp eye must be kept on the frost item. Sometimes steam heat is provided, oil stoves may be used and glass covered frames should be covered with burlap or straw mats, securely held down either by tying them in place or by weighting them down. Both canvas and the glass covering should be well fastened to prevent their being lifted off by strong winds.

The upper end of glass sash may be held down with a hook and staple, a hook being placed on the back of the frame at the center of each sash with the staple in the end of the sash. Canvas covers are best held down by nailing along the center to a board run lengthwise on the center of the rafters, in the case of double coverings, or along the back in the case of single ones and by placing marbles or small pebbles in the cloth and tying about these every 4 or 5 feet, along the ends and sides, slipping the looped ends of the twine used in tying them over nails driven into the ends and sides of the frame.

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