Monday, January 24, 2011

Winter Weather and Solar Collectors

I was going to trek up to the frames and tunnels to take a peek this morning.. but it's just too cold! With the windchill, the temp is -29C and I'm feeling a bit wimpy.. I'll give the frames a break for a day or two until the weather turns around.

Besides, when it's so cold, it's best to keep the tops down tight. In late afternoon, when the sun begins to tumble towards the horizon, I even like to toss an old blanket or carpet on top of the cold frame sashes to insulate the plants from the bitterly cold night. During the day, when the sun is shining, I'll leave the structures uncovered so that they can take advantage of the available solar energy.. but the nighttime blanket will help retain that energy and protect the plants.

Another idea is to use a solar collector. A solar collector will gather solar energy when the sun is shining and release it at night. You could use black painted water jugs (filled with water) which are placed at the back corners of the inside of the frame. These will collect heat during the day and then slowly release it at night. Some gardeners also use small water-filled metal barrels (again, painted black), concrete blocks and so on. If you're handy, you could even install a lightbulb or string some Christmas lights inside your frames or mini hoop tunnels, turning them on at sundown. I haven't tried the light trick, but I've heard that it will raise the temp inside the structures by at least several degrees.. perhaps this would be a good idea for gardeners in zones 2 to 4 to protect their frames.

So, since, the cold has chased me inside, I'm sitting by the fireplace with a hot cup of tea and thinking about summer! What to grow this year.. so many choices.. so little space.. what are you going to plant this summer? I'm always on the hunt for something new.. and what are your favourite seed catalogues.. I'm hoping that my Annapolis Seeds, Hope Seeds and Kitchen Garden Seed catalogues will arrive this week (maybe today?!).. what a treat on a freezing day..

Until then.. here are a few summer shots to (hopefully) inspire and warm you up!

Happy Gardening!


  1. It's Bren...comp probs. Hey, thanks for the tip and if I dare to go out in this weather, will put something over the coldframe.. Thank you very much. burrrrr.

  2. Hi, thanks for commenting on my blog. I really must remember that solar collector idea for the coldframes. It also reminded me to grab a large box and line it with foil to reflect light back at the seedlings I will be sowing indoors soon, hopefully it will stop them from getting too leggy.

  3. Hi Plantaliscious - thanks for your comment! Foil or even painting the inside of a cold frame white are also great ways to increase light.. good idea about putting it around your lights too.. I've done this with great success in the past.. thanks again!


Please feel free to leave comments. I welcome your tips, questions, thoughts and ideas (and suggestions for new veggies to grow!)