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How To Build An Inexpensive DIY Cold Frame From Recycled Windows

With just a few reclaimed or recycled windows, you can start growing vegetables long after summer is over with your own inexpensive DIY cold frame!

Cold frames are the perfect answer for those wanting to grow fresh veggies beyond the traditional growing season.

In fact, in some areas, they can keep fresh greens on the table all year long!

diy recycled window cold frame
We have used our recycled window cold frames to grow vegetables late into fall, and help start our seedlings in spring.

And no matter where you live, certainly extend your growing season by a month or more on each end.

Using Cold Frames For Growing Fresh Produce

Cold frames are perfect for growing cold-hardy crops like radishes, lettuce, kale and spinach.

These cool-weather loving crops thrive in cold frames. And they can be grown all through winter. Even as the snow piles up outside of their comfy 4 walls!

We have used our DIY cold frames at the farm to grow fresh greens well in to January & February some years. It is always such a neat feeling to be harvesting a crop while your feet are standing in snow!

growing lettuce in a cold frame
Cold frames are ideal for growing salad crops late into fall, and even through winter.

But cold frames have other great uses as well. They are great for starting seedlings in the spring, and for hardening off vegetable and flower transplants too. See : How To Use A Cold Frame To Extend Your Growing Season

Using Recycled Windows To Create A DIY Cold Frame

Cold frames are actually quite easy to make. Especially if you have a few old window frames to use as a cover.

We built our cold frames for about $20 a piece. All it took was a few 2 x 10 lumber boards. two hinges, and 2 old windows.

To make ours, we used window sashes we had on hand from an old barn window.

DIY cold Frames =- recycled windows

Usually, old window frames are pretty easy to find on craigslist or local re-purpose stores. But if you don’t have access to old frames, you can also make a frame cover using wood and clear plastic.

How To Build A DIY Cold Frame

You window dimensions will determine the size of your finished cold frame.

The frames should cover the entire top of the cold frame to keep heat from escaping. The two windows we used measured 27″ x 24”, so we built our frames to the same size.

Here is a look at how we built our, step by step. You can easily adjust the material sizes to fit your window.


recycled windows for diy cold frame
The materials for our cold frame.
  • (2) Recycled window sashes  (be sure to use windows that have no lead paint)
  • (2) –  2 x 10 x 10’  regular framing lumber – untreated
  • (4) –  3” hinges
  • (24) – 3” exterior screws

Step 1 – Cutting out the pieces

We started by cutting a total of (3) 54” and (3) 21″ pieces from the 2 x 10’s.

drawing an angle
Creating the angle line for the side pieces.

We took (2) of the 21” pieces and drew a diagonal line from the top of one side to the bottom of the other. We then cut the pieces to create our side angle boards.

Step 2 – Assembly

Assembly couldn’t be easier. We started by screwing together (2) 54” boards and (2) 21” pieces to create a rectangle

2 x 10 lumber
Screwing together the base of the DIY cold frame.

It is always a good idea to pre-drill each screw hole to keep the wood from splitting. The completed frame measured 54 x 24″.

Next, we mounted the angle boards to the sides by driving a screw in the bottom portion of each side.

The angle boards going on top of the side board.

To complete the frame, we then placed the final 54” board on the back side, and attached to the angle boards with two screws on each side.

Attaching the Hinges

For attaching the windows, we used basic butt-style hinges. We used two hinges for each window, securing them to the top back of the cold frame.

The hinges allow you to prop open the cold frame easily on warm days. A few years back, we actually installed automatic vent openers to our cold frames.

growing vegetables in the winter
The completed cold frame.

Using solar power, they automatically open at a certain temperature, and close when it gets too cold. They are a bit pricey ($25 – $40), but are great for keeping plants healthy without trudging out day and night! Product Link : Automatic Vent Opener

Here is to growing your own food through the cold winter months with a DIY cold frame! Happy Gardening – Jim and Mary.

Jim and Mary Competti have been writing gardening, DIY and recipe articles and books for over 15 years from their 46 acre Ohio farm. The two are frequent speakers on all things gardening and love to travel in their spare time.

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