The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

How to make temporary cold frames out of old windows, bricks and bubble wrap


Photo: Temporary cold frame

Photo: Temporary cold frame

“It’s best to make things from stuff that you find hanging around. That’s what it’s all about.”
Last spring S had made a new chicken house out of bits and bobs he had found in his sheds.
He was pleased with the final result. It’s a great chicken house – roomy and low. A bit like the sort of chicken house that a Hobbit might have made. As it was constructed from recycled materials it didn’t cost a bomb.

Sometimes I’m so pleased that I’m a hoarder. In the past I hoarded and bought new. Now I am gradually making the transition from hoarder to hoarder/recycler. As Danny says,
“There is a lot of stuff. You have a long way to go.”

It’s the start of a great adventure.

We quickly run out of space in the greenhouse and cold frame this spring. These were full of plants not junk! I was thinking of extending the greenhouse but cash is a bit tight at the moment and we have invested a lot in the veg and flower growing project. Until that I know this project has wings I’m loathe to spend any more money. And we are trying to be self sufficient, after all.

Then one night I woke at three, fretting about finding homes for the plants and remembered that I had taken a pair of French windows and quite a few windows from my friend Katy when she was having her windows replaced a few years ago.

At the time I was planning to make a huge cold frame but somehow have never got around to doing this. Gradually the windows and doors disappeared beneath the ivy which grows over the brick shack. As they silently vanished in a Sleeping Beauty landscape I forgot all about them.

I was thinking of getting my tools out and making some pukka cold frames. But I’m not up for long each day and the whole thing seemed a bit of a palaver.
“Why not construct some thing very simple as a temporary measure.” Danny suggested.
“There are loads of bricks from the new borders.”
We also have a lot of bubble wrap that I have squirreled away over the years.

So I made these temporary cold frames. Using a length of bubble wrap on the ground – slightly bigger than the window frame. I placed bricks at each end and folded the bubble wrap over the bricks and under the window frame. The bubble wrap sides are held in place small pots which can be removed on warmer days and the wrap pulled down. The plants are loving it and we have enough space on the drive for the hundreds of flower and vegetable plants that we are raising this year.

By the end of the summer I do hope to make some permanent cold frames – with sloping hinged roofs so the rain washes off into tubs for recycling – in the front garden. This is much more sheltered than the back garden and would be good for overwintering plants and raising plants next spring. I’m so pleased that I didn’t make one huge cold frame as now I can see the benefit of having several that can be moved around to find the best aspect for the plants growing in them.

  Leave a reply


  1. seahorse

    You can swap huge amounts of useful stuff at your local freecycle or freegle group. Greenhouses come up occasionally (but you have to be quick as I gave a really old rusty one away the other year and got over 30 responses in half an hour!) Basically, you need to offer stuff as well as post ‘wanted’ ads, and I’ve had everything from plant pots to horseradish and given away old wood, a door, you name it.
    I think you are in Suffolk?

  2. like the cold frame, check out as sometimes people give away garden related stuff. I’ve picked up a petrol strimmer, loads of pots, GW magazines and plants for nothing.

  3. Cookie Girl

    I agree, I am slowly learning that it is much more convenient to have smaller, portable structures than huge, immobile, permanent objects. This applies to all sorts of things, not just cold frames.

  4. Toffeeapple

    What a splendid idea Fiona, you seem to become more resourceful as the weeks go by.

  5. Keep an eye out on local papers too, many people will give a greenhouse away free to whoever is willing to disassemble it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HTML tags are not allowed.

2,237,274 Spambots Blocked by Simple Comments

Copyright © 2006-2012 Cottage Smallholder      Our Privacy Policy      Advertise on Cottage Smallholder