Growing Vegetables in Frames


Growing your vegetables in a cold frame is an excellent way to ensure that you have edible crops for harvest over the cold winter months. Choose cold-hardy plants such as lettuces, round finger carrots, or dark leafy greens for growing in the winter. Hot-weather-loving plants such as tomatoes and peppers can be started in a cold frame during the last stage of winter. They can then be transplanted to your garden once all danger of frost has passed.

Step 1

Install a cold frame. Commercial kits are available, or you can build one yourself out of 2-by-4s and an old window sash. A cold frame is simply a glass-topped, open-bottomed frame that sits on soil and guards plants against cold. The glass helps the box act as a miniature greenhouse.

Step 2

Select cold-hardy vegetable seeds. Lettuces, spinach, kale, chard, green onions and round finger carrots are all good choices for vegetables to grow during fall and winter.

Step 3

Sow seeds directly in the cold frame according to package instructions. Different varieties require different planting depths. Lettuces, as a rule, need very little dirt to cover them. Some lettuces even do best when simply broadcast on top of the soil rather than buried.

Step 4

Water and fertilize sparingly. Winter watering needs are less than summer ones, but will vary wildly according to the weather. Be observant. Follow your fertilizer's instructions for application.

Step 5

Start seeds for a warm weather garden in your cold frame instead of starting them indoors. Sow tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and other hot-weather-loving plants as package directions instruct in early spring, about six to eight weeks prior to the final frost date. Water regularly and fertilize according to package instructions.

Step 6

Transplant hot-weather seedlings into your garden after they have grown 6 to 8 inches tall, and all danger of frost has passed.

Step 7

Use the cold frame for succession gardening to keep a year-round harvest available. Plan your garden ahead so you always have different seasonally-appropriate plants cycling through different stages of growth for a continual harvest.

Things You'll Need

  • Cold frame
  • Cold-hardy vegetable seeds
  • Hot weather vegetable seeds
  • Shovel
  • Compost
  • Fertilizer


  • Hume Seeds: Cold Frame Gardening
  • Organic Gardening and Homesteading: Cold Frame Vegetables
Keywords: growing cold frame, cold frame vegetables, seed starting frame

About this Author

Amrita Chuasiriporn is a professional cook, baker, and writer. In addition to cooking and baking for a living, Chuasiriporn has written for several online publications. These include Chef's Blade, CraftyCrafty, and others. Additionally, Chuasiriporn is a regular contributor to online automotive enthusiast publication Chuasiriporn holds an A.A.S. in culinary arts, as well as a B.A. in Spanish language and literature.