Go To Intro

Wellington Fields Allotments - Hixon.


Plough Field Allotments at Amerton


Gardening Tips
By Mrs FM


Unusual & Old
Fashioned Fruit


Herbs & Other
Edible Plants.

Environmental Issues And Going Green.

Books By
Alan J Hartley



A New Cold Frame And Toolbox.

Our Allotments are sited on an extremely windy hillside where even heavy wooden sheds occasionally get blown over. The seemingly constant wind wreaks havoc with most other things besides sheds as well. Things such as Bean canes, Fleeces and Cloches all suffer. Many people have tried using various Cloches of one size, or another on their plots. The smaller ones seem to survive, but bigger ones get smashed and as they are quite expensive to buy, at 30, or 40 pounds each, I have been thinking about alternatives. Nobody as yet has put a Cold Frame on their plot and ready made cold Frames are also expensive. It does not matter whether they are made of glass and metal, or plastic and wood, they still come out at about £30 or £40 each. Glass is not a good idea from a safety point of view and wouldn’t last 5 minutes anyway soon getting smashed by the wind and the plastic ones would simply be picked up and blown away whole.

Instead of a costly shed I had thought of having a plastic toolbox, but others have had them and the plastic perishes under the effects of direct sunlight after a couple of years with lids cracking and hinges breaking. Again they are not cheap for what they are, although I have seen a plastic bench and toolbox combined that would be a better buy, but as I have already got a bench that didn’t interest me either. 

With the cost of a shed and all these other things going round in my head I eventually decided to build an old fashioned Cold Frame out of brick that faces South and also a brick Tool Box on the back of it facing North. Building out of Concrete and brick is not a cheap option and is actually quite expensive to do properly, but on the other hand should last for decades regardless as to what the weather throws at it. Admittedly the tops could get broken, but I can always make new tops at a relatively small cost. Eventually, after much thought, I opted to build them out of external grade concrete blocks and bricks some of which I already had in my existing compost heap. I got a friend who wasn’t a bad bricklayer to help me and they took several weeks to build as my friend could only help me one day a week. We were lucky with the weather, but I still had no lids on them before the first frosts came and I had hoped to put my Chrysanthemums in the Cold Frame before then. However, the frosts did not prove severe enough to do much damage, so hopefully the wood and PolyCarbonate top to the Cold Frame will be finished in time before the winter really sets in. The Toolbox is a slightly bigger version of the cold frame to enable me to get buckets and hoes/rakes in and of course has a solid wooden top that is partly screwed down and hinged and has been covered in roofing felt to keep out the weather. The other difference between the two is that the Toolbox has a concrete floor to keep rats and mice out that might be drawn to anything stored in there - fertilizers especially. The soil base to the Cold Frame means that not only can I heal my Chrysanthemum stools in the ground over winter, but I will be able plant something like a Melon in it for the Summer months. Between the Chrysanthemums coming out in early Spring and the Melon going in I can start my vegetable seedlings off inside it as well. The Modular, or Cellular seed trays that I normally use, can be put into cold propagators inside the Cold Frame to keep the moisture in the trays and later on the seed trays can be stood on Gravel Trays to reduce the need for watering. With a little bit of planning, the new Cold Frame should mean that I have to move a lot less plants backwards and forwards between my greenhouse at home and my allotment.

While building the Cold Frame/Tool Box, I decided to relocate my compost heap and brick it up properly with Cement. This will make it safer as the bricks won’t keep moving and the walls toppling over, although the intention is to have some of the bricks stacked loosely on the top layers so that I can adjust the height as the heaps fill and empty. With my new and slightly bigger compost heaps I will be able to leave the compost in longer between turning and finally digging out. We have found that the big communal heaps have benefited by leaving them longer and they have produced a much finer compost with less coarse material left in that is un-decomposed.

Again I was fortunate in my construction of the compost heap with the timing and the weather as the Rhubarb was just dying down for the Winter when I had to move a couple of plants to make way for the new brickwork. The plants were replanted almost straight away, but could have been left out of the ground for several weeks, because in their dormant state at this time of year Rhubarb plants are quite happy with this type of mistreatment. To finish off around my new constructions I decided to put some slabs down to walk on. Slab-work is frowned upon, on the Allotments, but I felt it was necessary around my Cold Frame etc as I will be constantly moving round them.

The Cold Frame/Tool Box and Compost heap are all sited along the perimeter fence line of my plot as are other peoples sheds and compost heaps which helps to keep things looking tidy and a bit more organised on the site. We are limited as to the number of sheds on our site so it will be interesting to see if others follow my lead and build Tool Boxes and Cold Frames in brick avoiding the dreaded plastic structures.


Click Here For Information