Cheating Nature: Cold Frames for Apartment Dwellers

Depending on where you live your grow season may be considered very short. That doesn’t mean you can’t squeeze a few more weeks (or even months) out of your climb with easy fixes. I wrote an earlier post about a miniature hoop house giving us lettuce far past our normal harvest date.

Man kneeling outside a hoop house, showing greens to a cat.


But there are other solutions as well. You can use cloches made from 2 liter bottles or milk jugs cut in half.

You can build cold frames from a few bales of hay and an old window. I’m always surprised by the simple ingenuity of people who really really really want lettuce in winter.

Now I know most of the readers here tend to live in cities and other areas where a yard isn’t really an option but you still want to garden. And today I found the answer. A way for people to garden for the first time in winter from their apartment balconies without a lot of setup or equipment

SOIL BAGS AND COLD FRAMES. How have I not thought of this myself?!

You basically get a few bags of the soil of your choice from a garden center, throw together a small cold frame, and there you have it.

These are absolutely perfect for greens. Greens need less sunlight and do well in cold so they’re a perfect winter crop. Kale, lettuces, mache, spinach, etc. All thrive in chilly shady weather. And once it warms up out you can dump the soil from the bags into your salad buckets. IT’S SO PERFECT. If  you have the option face your cold frame towards the south, where it’s going to get the best sunlight and warmth. If that’s not an option place it in the sunniest spot you can. And if you don’t know how to build a cold frame or want something that requires even less work or materials, all you need are a few bales of hay and an old window:

Leafy greens growing inside a square of hay bales and under windows tipped to make a triangular "roof"
photo from

Now literally no one has an excuse not to enjoy some home-grown lettuce!

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