The Garden Frame

The garden frame is the half-way stage between the greenhouse and garden and, as such, is extremely valuable in many ways. It can also be looked on as a substitute for, as well as an auxiliary of, the greenhouse.

Many plants raised in the greenhouse, but ultimately destined for the open garden must be gradually acclimatised to outdoor conditions. It is here that the garden frame comes into its own. In addition, a garden frame can relieve congestion in the greenhouse and be used as a place for growing plants on before taking them back into the greenhouse.

Frames of many patterns are available and may be made of wood (soft wood or cedar wood), concrete, brick, or metal sheeting. The traditional frame with a glazed and removable top (known as a ‘light’) of 6 ft. by 4 ft. dimensions is one of the most favoured, but the best and most convenient, in my opinion, is the kind with lights of standard Dutch light size, where the glass measures 56 in. by 28-½ in. Having one sheet of glass per light rather than numerous panes of glass with glazing bars to hold them in position allows the maximum amount of light to reach the plants – which, after all, is one’s real objective, as well as providing controlled atmospheric conditions. Dutch lights are much more convenient to handle than the traditional frame light, which is an important factor to bear in mind when equipment has to be moved frequently. On the other hand it must be said that a broken Dutch light glass is more costly to replace than individual panes of the traditional type.

English: An diy unheated seed starting greenho...

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For the average-sized garden I would recommend a frame with two to four lights, four being the ideal – but, of course, cost must be borne in mind. If the frame is to be used for seeds and cuttings a front wall 12 in. high and a back wall 18 in. high will be sufficient but deeper frames will be needed if pot plants are to be accommodated. It will be understood that deeper frames are much more flexible in their operation than shallow kinds and that with their aid a greenhouse unit can be run with more efficiency.

By the same token, a heated frame offers more scope than an unheated unit, for with soil-warming cables below and air-warming cables around the sides, a

A garden frame is extremely useful for the greenhouse owner, for not only does it serve as a half-way stage between the green-frame becomes, in effect, a miniature greenhouse. If a temperature of 13 to 16°C. (55 to 60°F.) can be maintained, seeds of many half-hardy plants can be germinated in early spring or early supplies of such salad crops as lettuces can be produced.

Unheated frames are useful for hardening off greenhouse-raised plants before they are planted out in the garden in spring or early summer. They are useful for raising cuttings in at almost any time of year and for providing slightly tender plants such as penstemons and bedding calceolarias with winter protection. In winter, too, they can be used to house the stools of outdoor chrysanthemums. Seed sowings made in unheated frames can give an advantage of several weeks over outdoor sowings.

An unheated frame is also an excellent place to start off bulbs like hyacinths, tulips, daffodils and crocuses which have been potted up for later forcing in the greenhouse. Lilies and freesias grown in pots can also be started off there.

Cucumbers and melons are popular for frame cultivation and naturally they can be started off much earlier in a heated frame than in an unheated one.

If one wishes to start gladioli into growth early in boxes then the cold frame is the place for these. It is also suitable for raising sweet pea plants in before planting them out in April. Sowings of sweet peas can be made in an unheated frame in October, or in January or February in a frame heated to a temperature of 13 to 16°C. (55 to 60°F.).

These are only some of the uses to which frames can be put. A greenhouse is certainly a less useful item of equipment without them.

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01. March 2012 by admin
Categories: Featured, Greenhouse Gardening | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on The Garden Frame

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