Tag Archive: cold frame


How to build a Cold Frame

‘Spring is around the corner and it will soon be time to start sowing seeds.

For those of us who haven’t got a greenhouse, (especially a nice warm one like our editor Maddy’s, who has been using her hot bin composter to keep her greenhouse above freezing all winter), the unpredictable weather can have a huge impact on when we start our seeds. With the possibility of late frosts, seeds can be easily damaged, right through to April and May.

So making a cold frame is a great way to start off your seeds in a warmer and more protected environment, until they are strong enough to be planted out in the unpredictable weather……’

Great idea from Permaculture Magazine – click on the title link for further information and other useful links

Old School Gardener

ChrysanthemumsI’ve received a question from a Nottinghamshire gardener about different kinds of cutting. Mr. R.Hood asks:

‘What is the difference between softwood and greenwood cuttings? I’ve read that chrysanthemums are propagated from greenwood.’

Well, Mr. Hood, the difference comes down to something quite smallsoftwood cuttings are taken from the first flush of new growth in spring, whereas greenwood cuttings are taken slightly later, when the wood at the base of the cutting is a little firmer – these cuttings do not root quite as quickly.  Greenwood cuttings are easier to handle than softwood, and they are less prone to wilting. Therefore, greenwood cuttings should be used to propagate plants that root readily, like Delphiniums, Pelargoniums and indeed Chrysanthemums. Chrysanthemum cuttings could not be easier and for every mother or grandmother plant, you can produce at least 10 of a new generation. For an easy guide on how look at this article.

Softwood cutting

Softwood cutting

And while we’re talking about propagating new plants from cuttings how about evergreen plants?

Cuttings from these plants are usually taken from ‘ripe or semi ripe wood’ (i.e. when stems are firmer and buds have developed) in early summer and autumn and rooted  in a cold frame. They can be anything from 50 -150cm long, depending on the size of the plant, and preferably with a ‘heel’ of older wood where the cutting stem has been pulled away from the main stem. You then strip off the lower leaves, and if there is no heel, make a wound about 13mm long at the base of the cutting. Apply a hormone rooting powder to the base of the cutting (just a light dusting) and insert the cutting to half their length in soil – you can probably put a number around the edge and in the centre of a pot. To help reduce water loss from the remaining leaf/leaves, cut these in half.

Semi ripe cutting

Semi ripe cutting

The pot should then be placed in a cold frame (you can also root the cuttings directly into the soil in a cold frame , but make sure it has been forked over and manured/composted a week or two beforehand).  Water them well and close the frame completely. Inspect and water them regularly and harden them off during the summer to prepare them for planting out the following autumn.

You can create your own 'mini cold frame' by using plastic covers or bags over pot-planted cuttings

You can create your own ‘mini cold frame’ by using plastic covers or bags over pot-planted cuttings

Another technique, if you don’t have a cold frame, is to put a plastic cover, or bag secured with an elastic band over the top of the pot – this helps to prevent the cuttings drying out, by maintaining a naturally humid atmosphere. These effectively become ‘mini cold frames’ themselves.

It seems you can grow some evergreen cuttings by placing them into a cut potato! - this one is Wisteria.

It seems you can grow shrub cuttings by placing them into a cut potato! – this one is Wisteria, see the link for further info

Further information:

Softwood and Greenwood cuttings – RHS

Semi ripe cuttings- RHS

Propagating shrubs in a potato

Old School Gardener

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PicPost: Bale Out

A great idea for a temporary cold frame, using simple materials. From Growveg

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