Cold frames in a winter permaculture garden

It is interesting to note how the experts’ gardens are growing and Permaculture Magazine has given us an insight into the garden of Patrick Whitefield, an innovator in the field of sustainability.  Patrick is an author, gardener and permaculture teacher and a tour of his garden appears in the magazine and on the website to show you what you can grow and eat in winter.

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As part of his tour, Patrick describes a partial cold frame that he has made out of a steel-framed window.  After deciding it was too heavy to fashion into a cold frame, he decided simply to lean it against a south facing wall to provide some wind protection for the plants underneath and focus the warmth of the sun.

Innovative it may be, but Patrick admits that it won’t do the same job as a full cold frame.  The frosts can be fatal to young plants and seedlings right into the spring and a cold frame can free up space in your greenhouse.  Some people raise bonsai trees in cold frames or over-winter them there, and Gabriel Ash’s taller upright cold frames allow plenty of space for slightly taller plants.  Tender ornamentals can also be protected there and cold frames are ideal in spring time for acclimatizing your new plants to the outdoors.

Metal frames provide less insulation and are also less sturdy than wood so look for wooden frames for the best protection for your plants.  Also look for the PEFC logo so you can be sure that you’re buying from sustainable sources.  Gabriel Ash’s products are all certified with this and our cedar frames and powder coated sills provide a barrier to the dampness coming from the ground.

So what’s best for your garden – a quick makeshift job like Patrick’s or the purchase of a luxury, top-of-the-range cold frame like those from Gabriel Ash?  As with all things, you get what you pay for.  We know what we’d choose.

Patrick Whitefield has written several books, including The Earth Care Manual,Permaculture in a Nutshelland How to Make a Forest Garden.

He runs a variety of permaculture courses which you can see on his website