Cold frame gardens provide an ideal method for jump-starting the vegetable growing season in late winter and extending it through late fall. Because it is so easy to build a simple garden cold frame, you may choose to assemble more than one of these compact structures for your home gardening needs. Essentially miniature greenhouses that sit flat at ground level, cold frames are inexpensive to build as they require only a handful of materials (many of which may be lying around your living space awaiting repurpose). Little to no carpentry expertise is needed for cold frame assembly and the task can be accomplished within a few hours.
Materials needed for cold frame construction include an old window or window frame, preferably with glass still intact; four pieces of scrap lumber - all the same width (at least 6' wide); a handsaw; and a hammer and some nails.
In order to start building your cold frame, you'll want to first secure the window, as this will determine the cold frame size and dimensions. You may already have an old window or storm door on hand. If not, check out your neighbors, area garage sales, salvage yards or local window contractors.
Once you have the window, measure the glass surfaces on all four sides (from frame to frame) and then obtain four pieces of same-width lumber (at least 6"wide, but 8" or 10" widths will work just fine).
Cut the four pieces of lumber in lengths that match the window glass-surface measurements; then, simply nail the corners together to make the box (frame) on top of which the window will snugly fit.
Once the cold frame is assembled, find a sunny flat spot for its location. Cultivate the soil/ ground underneath and within the frame to prepare the seed bed; moisten the soil; sow the seeds; pop the window on top and your cold frame garden will be underway.