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Need Quick Cold frame help

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Need Quick Cold frame help

Post  milaneyjane on 10/16/2010, 2:16 pm

Off to work in an hour so I am trying to do this quickly since it is supposed to be cold tonight. Wouldn't you know, my green pepper, banana peppers and jalapeno plants are still loaded in mid October in Minnesota! I have the ulti-mato tomato stakes that I thought I could stick in the soil around the edge of the boxes as the support to the plastic, and I have a large roll of some type of contruction clear heavy plastic sheeting (it must be 10 feet wide and a roll a good hundred feet long) I have no clue where it came from. Anyway, I thought I would drape the plastic over the tomato stakes and then secure the plastic by clipping on the cross bars on the outside of the plastic to the tomato stakes. Does that make sense? My question is, the stakes are quite tall, is it possible to make the cold frame too tall for the plants? I think they are about 3-4 feet tall? I just need something to get me through the night.

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Re: Need Quick Cold frame help

Post  Sidneystonethrow on 10/16/2010, 4:08 pm


Hi there
Hope this works first attempt at using this forum.
Just build four cold frames for my 4 SFG squares. Base is 4'x4' wood frame made from 2"x2" so that I could lift the frames off my 4'x4' SFG boxes. In summer I had chicken wire attached to keep cats out of the gardens (problem here). Decided to make something more versatile so have removed the chicken wire (nuisance stuff) and built what Mel referred to as a "covered wagon" frame using PVC electrical conduit (here costs $3.99 for 10' length over which attached plastic panels with ty-wraps to be my cold frame for fall/winter.
In summer my idea is to remove plastic panels - store flat (limited storeage available) - and cover the pvc conduit frame with bird netting to keep unwanted pests out of the gardens. To work on the gardens I just lift the frames off for complete acceess.
You may want to use the electrical conduit either attached permanently inside or with pipe clamps to the outside your boxes or build the frames as I did then over which you can attach the heavy construction sheeting you have on hand.
You could get away with three pieces conduit two bent over the ends with a centre support as on page 76 of the new SFG book which makes a pretty tall structure.
We are expecting La Nina here this year which could mean heavy snow so I found that the conduit cut to 7'10" will allow a 8' x4' sheet of platic to cover perfectly but I added a centre conduit support which made for 24" separation between ribs and extra strength to the structure. I still had the dying summer tomatoe plants in the boxes with 3 standard height tomatoe cages in two of the boxes and there was still lots of height left.
It was design by trial and error but I photo documented my process so if you want any more info I would happy to answer any questions with illustrations. The only downside is here the clear plastic panel I used are not cheap 4'x8'@$29 ea and I required 2 sheets per box. 1 for the roof and sides and 2 x 1/2 sheets for ends.

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Re: Need Quick Cold frame help

Post  Furbalsmom on 10/16/2010, 6:00 pm

Sidneystonethrow, How high did the 7' 10" pipes make your frame over your 4X4 beds? I just don't know how to do the math to determine how high this hoop would be. What type of plastic did you use that cost so much? Was it heavier than 6 mil?

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Re: Need Quick Cold frame help

Post  Furbalsmom on 10/16/2010, 6:07 pm

Milaneyjane, sounds like making a blanket of the heavy plastic using your tomato stakes is a good idea. I don't know how tall the states are, but you do want to be sure that the plastic is not going to touch your leaves as any leaves that touch may get burnt from the frost.

With so much produce still there, you might want to consider Sidneystonethrow's suggestion for a cold frame cover that would certainly help you extend your season a bit. It would also be helpful next spring to help warm your MM and let you set out plants a bit earlier.

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Re: Need Quick Cold frame help

Post  Sidneystonethrow on 10/17/2010, 12:52 am

https://i26.servimg.com/u/f26/15/76/79/55/th/dsc_0112.jpg
https://i26.servimg.com/u/f26/15/76/79/55/th/dsc_0210.jpg
I just measured the height over the beds at centre frame to be about 38" over the top of my 2x6 side plus the 2x2 frame which would be approximatly about 40+ inches over the top of the Mel's mix soil.
Despite losing 26" off the 1/2" x 10' conduit by cutting it to 7'10" I gained back about 8-9 " by affixing the conduit to the top of my frame rather than in the box or into the soil outside the box. The first picture shows the 1/2 PVC connector (cost $.49 ea) fitted into holes drilled 1/2 way into the top of the 2x2 frame via a 1 1/8" wood drill bit at the 4 corners. To ensure the stay in place I drill a 3/32 hole thru the frame and as close to the bottom of the connector as possible and affixed them with a 1 1/2 wood screw. The electrical conduit has a bell end to enable connecting to another section of 1/2 conduit. I measured 7'10" and cut from the non bell end and then cut off 2 bell ends and installed them at the 24" mark of 2x2 frame as the connectors for the middle rib. Once the conduit was bent and secured at both ends then I drilled a 3/32 hold thru the connect and conduit and locked in place with 3/4 galvanized nail which allows me to easily take the whole frame apart at will for storage if necessary. The only other connectors used were 2 "T connectors" drilled out to make them through connectors to connect each end of the conduit bar at the top. The middle rib is simply ty-wrapped to the top bar as I did not want to weaken the top bar by drilling holes into it. The second picture shows a frame prior to attaching the plastic panels (this is modified frame as it butts up against a trellis at the end of the box that is why the end is open.)
I read on a greenhouse supply website that the life cycle of poly film is about 4 yrs whereas the rigid plastic was about 8 years. Also I preferred something rigid to resist water/snow loading. Polycarbonate sheets would be the best but cost I @$120 a sheet too expensive for me. I also had some of the Plastic Panel material I used around from my first attempt at SFG 20+ years ago and it had not degraded so I was convinced this was the way to go. This product(may also be known as Coroplast, comes in many colours and is used for sign making as it is resistent to weather. The "clear" is not really clear but it is more translucent than the "white"
Long winded but I hope this answers your questions

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Re: Need Quick Cold frame help

Post  Furbalsmom on 10/17/2010, 10:28 am

Sidneystonethrow
Thanks for the additional info. I looked up Coroplast, and it appears to be a corrugated (like cardboard) plastic typically used for signs. How was that to bend over the hoops? Sounds like a good idea!

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Re: Need Quick Cold frame help

Post  Furbalsmom on 10/17/2010, 10:48 am

Milaneyjane, how did your peppers do overnight? Hope the plastic was sufficient to get you through a little longer.

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Re: Need Quick Cold frame help

Post  quiltbea on 10/17/2010, 12:26 pm

I plunged some stakes around my tomato plants and wrapped cold barrier cloth around them and clipped them shut with clothespins. You could do the same with sheets and blankets.

These are my 3 Oregon Spring determinates that decided to reproduce another crop late this fall. I only have new green tomatoes on these right now but the variety can be planted a month before last frost in the spring so I'm hoping the same can be said in reverse order for fall and I'll eventually get more red tomatoes. We shall see what happens with these with a little extra effort.

These are my 2 San Marzano Gigante 3s covered against the cold.
I harvested 2 more red Marzanos yesterday.
You can get a couple more weeks of harvest out of your plants if you cover them well enough. I understand the ripening slows dramatically if the temps drop below 40 so beware and cover them in the 40s.
Get to it and enjoy the results.

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How was Coroplast to bend over the hoops?

Post  Sidneystonethrow on 10/17/2010, 4:35 pm

Once I got the correct length for the conduit bends it was no problem to bend the plastic sheet perfectly. The only problem was that I constructed the conduit frame originally using the 10' original lengths with bell end cut off so the actual lenght was about 9'10" and left them in place for a couple of days while I conducted a frustrating search for a source for the Coroplast. The result was the conduit devleoped a "memory" bend for that length which when I cut them shorter the bends were not perfectly arched as I would have liked. This would not have been a problem had I started witht he correct length. I should also mention that I affixed 2 x 4' by 1 1/2" laths both sides of each sheet acting as roof and side and at one end of the 1/2 sheet used for the end sheets this was to give the ends some strength and minimize bowing of the sheet ends. I used an arrow T50 tacker to staple the sheet on one side to a lath with 3/8" staples then on the opposite side a attached another lath by drilling 6 holes with a 3/32 bit about 6" intervals and inserted cheap ($1.00 for 100) 3 3/4 " ty wraps to secure the two laths together. Then drilled larger holes wherever the lath would meet a conduit rib using a 3/32 bit and stronger 8" ty-wraps ($3.97 for 100) to secure the panels to ribs at the point where the conduit end met the 1/2 connector affixed to the wood 2" x 2" wood frame.



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Correction: How was Coroplast to bend over the hoops?

Post  Sidneystonethrow on 10/17/2010, 4:41 pm

Sorry goofed in last reply.
the larger bit size I used for the 8" ty wraps should have read 13/64 or 7/32 size holes.

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Re: Need Quick Cold frame help

Post  miinva on 10/25/2010, 11:01 pm

I've been reading the Winter Harvest Handbook so I'm going to try to extend my growing season with floating row cover. We'll see how it works Smile

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Re: Need Quick Cold frame help

Post  auntij on 11/5/2010, 3:01 pm

I know its been a little bit since you needed a reply but I also used the wagon cover style. The plastic I used to cover it was relatively cheap but heavy duty. I got it at lowes in the insulation department. It was 6mm plastic and came in different size rolls I got 10'X25' roll for like $14

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Re: Need Quick Cold frame help

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