Tag Archives: straw bales

Building a Cold Frame–Update on Straw Bale Cold Frame

Building a Cold Frame--Update on Straw Bale Cold FrameBuilding a cold frame can be very simple or quite complicated.  Last fall I decided to use straw bales to make a temporary cold frame to protect my arugula for the winter.  When I took the cover off this spring the arugula was green and healthy, looking mostly like it did last fall.  It wasn’t covered the whole winter–only the really freezing days and nights.  Towards the last part of the winter it ended up being covered almost the whole time.

It looked so wonderful to see all that green and healthy arugula at the end of the winter.  Plus we ate fresh arugula during the winter!

My straw bale cold frame was very successful.  We had an extremely cold winter with many nights in the teens and low twenties.  Many nights, not just a few, which is unusual for us.  But the arugula thrived and survived.

I had created another straw bale cold frame for beets and chard but I left gaps in the walls.  The gaps just let in too much cold air.  This was not good and the beets and chard appeared to have died.  But now they are growing again so we will be able to eat some soon.  Hurray!

The one drawback was the lack of a strong cover.  Someone mentioned this in the comments.  The row cover really doesn’t work if it snows.  I wanted to use corrugated clear plastic but I couldn’t find any.  I will continue to look for next year.  Maybe at Lowe’s or another Home Depot.  I looked at plexiglass but it was very expensive!

I improvised with a storm door screen which nicely covered the arugula patch.  I used the screen under the row cover with a 2×4 over the middle of the patch for additional support.  We had one significant snow–almost a foot.  And it was very heavy, wet snow.  The screen held up fine and it all actually turned out to be very successful.  A further bonus to this system is now that it is spring I can use the straw bales for mulch.  They are soaked and already rotting so they are a perfect addition to my garden!

Building a Cold Frame with Bales of Straw

Building a Cold Frame from Straw Bales

Arugula in straw bale cold frame

Building a cold frame can help winter vegetables survive cold, frosty nights.  I put together a very makeshift cold frame using straw bales and floating row covers.  I have arugula, swiss chard, beets and lettuce growing this winter.  The straw-bale cold frame is working great.  This week we had a night of 19 degrees and several nights in the 20′s.  I checked everything today and harvested arugula, beets and beet greens.  These beets were not in the cold frame and 0ne beet still had frost on it.  The plants are looking a little wilted but I think they will perk up on the next warmer day.  The white in the arugula picture is the floating row cover, used for protection from freezing which I pulled back to cut some arugula.