My husband is a genius.

This particular manifestation of his genius came about because I didn’t think ahead. I had the brilliant (!) idea of planting romaine lettuce in the cold frame. We could start it very early, I figured, and have our first crop in May, before some of our other plants are even in the ground.

So far, the lettuce experiment is going well. The seedlings are coming up, and some are almost an inch high. All is as planned. The problem is what wasn’t planned. It never occurred to me that, if I filled the cold frame with romaine, I’d have no place to start our other seeds.

Enter my husband, the genius.

We were in Home Depot looking at grinders. Once we determined that the only grinder powerful enough to do what we needed it to do (cut off large pieces of boat trailer) cost more than we were prepared to spend, Kevin brought me over to the other side of the store, to the aisle with vents and insulation.

I didn’t know where he was going with this, since we didn’t need any vents or insulation. But he went to the little section where they have window wells – heavy-duty pieces of semi-circular plastic that cover ground-level windows and the holes beneath them. Kevin took two of them off the shelf and then led me two aisles over, to the clamp section.

He put the two window wells on the floor, facing each other wall-side in, and put clamps along the top and sides where they met. Voila! A circular cold frame.

We bought the pieces for a grand total of some sixteen dollars and assembled them in the sunny spot right in front of the garage. It took about seven seconds, and another half hour or so to plant seeds for kale, arugula, fennel, and sugar snap peas.

Our new cold frame is big enough to hold three standard trays of 72 plants each. It’s mobile, so you can put it somewhere that you wouldn’t use for a greenhouse or a stationary cold frame (like right in front of the garage). It’s easily stored because the two wells nestle together and can fit on a shelf. On warm days, you can prop it open with a piece of wood.

The only problem we foresee is wind, and so we tied it down with a piece of rope anchored to a brick on one side and a rock on the other (we didn’t have two of either within arm’s reach). There may be problems we don’t foresee, but it’s hard to plan for those.

Technically, the jury’s out on the jury-rigged cold frame. We can’t declare success until our seeds come up, but I’m voting now anyway. It’s genius.

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  1. I have to admit- that was pretty damn clever! Those should last you a good, long time, as well. I have never seen anything like it at any of the local HDs here, so I suspect that it’s something used more in snow country.

    If your rope trick doesn’t work out, you could try a couple of bungie cords held down by tent stakes, which should be available at a army/navy surplus store, if not an outdoors store, or you could go the cheap route, which would be to shovel soil all around the edges. The soil method would be a pain to deal with if you had to open it, obviously.

    But what a great idea!!! Here’s a second vote for genius!

  2. And another vote for genius…actually more like inventive and forward thinking. You are becoming a Cape Codder faster than you think!!!

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