If you happen to live in an old house, like I do, you probably have some old windows laying around. And if you live in Ohio, like I do, you probably curse the end of the growing season in November, (though last year I was harvesting greens until December.) There’s an easy way extend the amount of growing time, and reuse your old windows rather than throwing them in a landfill.

Because all my old, inefficient windows are still doing their drafty duty in my house, I got this old window for $15 at an architectural salvage company.

It couldn’t be easier to build a cold frame. Simply find a window, cut lenghts of 2″x10″ pine board into pieces that match the length and width of the window, screw in furring strips to hold the box together, and attach three hinges to the back and to the window and you’re done! In all, the cold frame only took me 20 minutes to build. My frame isn’t huge – only 27″x35″. But it will be a nice start to winter gardening.

Screw in 1x1 strips to connect the sides.

I haven’t figured out exactly where in the yard I’ll put this, so I haven’t planted in it yet. Some good choices are cold hardy crops, like root vegetables, lettuce, parsley and Asian greens.  Until the weather gets cold, make sure you leave the lid open – or else you’ll cook those plants in the ground! Also, even when the weather is cool, you’ll want to leave the frame open whenever possible to prevent moisture buildup and to enhance airflow. But on chilly days, those panes of glass will help the plants inside continue growing in the relatively toasty microclimate.

The finished cold frame: I painted it purple because that's what I had, and it'll add some color to the winter garden.