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Hi, my other half has offered to do some DIY, instigated by a trip to a department store where I wanted to purchase a cold frame.  The cold frames available were very flimsy so he came across all manly (!) and has offered to make one for me if I provide him with a specification!  Would appreciate any tips anyone has!  Should cold frames have a base?  Is glass better than perspex?  Should the sides be made of brick or wood?  Also, can anyone recommend where to purchase a manger / waist high raised bed at all?  I've seen one but it's rather pricey.  Thanks in advance for any ideas x

Hope somebody answers this as I have exactly the same questions......Help!...Please!  Haven't got used to the site yet Tootles but presumably we can ask one the experts. That's my next step when I get back from work.



You might have made it by now, as I see you posted in January. I am no expert, so couldn't say which is best. But I used some old bricks for the walls of mine, with a wooden frame on top of the brickwork & two old glazed wooden windows, rescued from the tip.

In one of the popular gardens near to where I live,  which is open to the public, they did it this way, so I just copied the way they've done it. The windows slope down toward the front of the brick framework. So the windows can be propped up a little when needed. These ones are on flat soil, which I'm guessing, is warmer than concrete base.

Hope that helps.

Thanks for the reply flora_etc. I haven't actually made mine yet as I have also been checking local waste, but so far I've had no luck. I don't want to spend any money unless I have to, so I'll just keep looking. I have some waste wood and no old bricks so that will dictate my design I think. I would have definately said soil rather than concrete and I'll probably line it with some black plastic to keep weeds and slugs down to a minimum.  Thanks again, SkyeSteve


Tootles & SkyeSteve, have you come across Freecycle / Freegle? They are forums for giving away or asking for 'stuff' that others don't want. This time of year when people are doing DIY projects, you may be lucky and find window frames. 


If you're after waste wood, window frames, old doors etc, check and see if you near one of the wood recycling shops around the UK

Really useful for old scaffold boards for raised beds, and they make things too like planters, and maybe a manger!


You're welcome, SkyeSteve. I'm a bit like you, in the respect of not paying out silly money for some garden stuff, when one can make do with what one has got. Maybe keep an eye out for neighbours who are knocking out old walls, for bricks? It'd certainly use less mortar!!!

I decided not to line my cold frame, as have an army of slugs/snails here & they like a nice safe place to hide under, from birds etc., Then they just come out & nibble away on the nearest greenery.

My mum used to save her egg shells to use as a gravel type base for hers. But I'm not sure if it worked. I do recall her telling me we had some "very brave slugs, who didn't seem to mind the jagged edges of broken shells". I understand they don't like copper though, so am wondering if that thin copper sheeting is any good for a base? I use thick copper strips around the rims of some clay pots & they tend to not cross that line.

FloBear & rockette, those are some great suggestions. I hadn't heard of either before, so am off to have a look at those links.


Saw a manger at my local Wyevale yesterday. Didn't see the price, but someone was buying one.


Tootles and Skyesteve - my makeshift coldframe was scavenged, so free.  But it wouldn't rate in the fashion stakes.  Found a set of drawers out for local bin collection last year.  Ditched the drawers and kept the frame and knocked out the back.  Used it as a big planter last year.  Couldn't afford a coldframe so the drawer cabinet is now the temporary coldframe with an overlarge window frame also from the bin collection pile.  So has no bottom and I just lift off the windowframe when weather suitable.   I poured in an inch or so of sharp sand in the bottom and seem to have no problems with it.  Looks a bit of a mess but has been a multi-purpose freebie - and the seedlings and plants are doing brilliantly in it with plenty room for large plants too.  Stapled some carpet underlay foam inside which seems to insulate very well in low temps and doesn't seem to get dirty or harbour any bugs or germs.  Ok the widowframe isn't angled down for rain to run off and it can be heavy to lift off - but it's advantages have proved it as useful and I was desperate!  It's also ugly but works for me plus being free.

Well some great ideas and advice, thanks all. Flora_etc I have recently started to save my eggshells rather than put them on the compost. I was going to buy some Hostas which I love, but have been decimated by snails/slugs in the past, and use them for that, but it might be a good idea to use them in my cold frame. Several of my friends keep me supplied with duck eggs which have much thicker shells, so they might be better at keeping the slugs at bay. That's just made me think of seaweed, which I have good access to, as its very brittle and sharp when it's dry, so I can try that as well.  Yarrow2, I like the idea of your cold frame. I'm not a DIYer, so I like to keep things simple!.....and it does the job.   Right, I'm going to try those websites. 


THANK YOU so much for the ideas!  Right SkyeSteve - let's have a go!!  Let me know how you get on.

I ended up purchasing a manger...for £180 (ouch) but hope to have it for a lifetime so should be worth the investment.

Thanks again folks

Yeah, I'll let you know. I'm away for a couple of weeks soon so I'll be planning it while I'm relaxing with my feet up!  


I'm also wanting to make a cold frame......a friend has given me some 2 x 2 perspex sheets - I also have scrap wood from building an arbour last year, will the perspex work or does it have to be glass - look forward to any replies x


There's a video here  it's one of the clearest set of instructions I've ever seen and certainly one of the most entertaining - anyone who enjoys watching Nigel on Gardeners World will certainly enjoy watching this three times as much!

I'd like to know the answer about the perspex myself actually. I haven't made mine yet as I'm still on the look out for a window frame as I don't want to spend any money....I have some spare wood waiting. I don't know about the heat retaining properties of perspex as opposed to glass and it depends how substantial it needs to be, but it may be worth giving it a try. 



The chap in the video mentions that he's also done one on perspex  coldframes.

Such fab ideas. I chickened out and ended up buying a raised bed kit which was ??24 and easy peasy to put together, and two cold frames! One is glass (only ??10 off ebay) and the other Perspex (new ??80). The second hand glass one is very sturdy and seems to get less condensation than the Perspex one. The Perspex one came in kit form and was tricky to put together but it seems to get warmer than the glass one. Have just moved both off the grass and on to slabs as the plants seemed to be rotting - guessing just too warm and moist on a grass base. Also lots of slugs gathering in the warmth. The raised bed has been great. Nice tidy way to grow veg. How did you get on SkyeSteve?

The plants might be suffering from lack of ventilation - it's only in the very hardest weather that you need to keep the cold frame closed up.

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