Being a vegan means my diet consists of fruits and vegetables. So, you would think it would be like second nature for me to be a successful gardener. Last year was my first attempt at gardening, and my garden was OK. Nothing spectacular. This year, I decided to try something different. I built a mini greenhouse (cold frame) on my raised garden bed. My vegetable plants have been growing like crazy.

At the beginning of May, I decided to buy some lumber and some heavy plastic sheeting. I started to build my cold frame (I guess cold frame is the technical term after reading a lot of gardening blogs) over my raised garden bed. It was pretty simple. I attached 2x4s on the four sides of the bed, one across the front and stretched the plastic sheeting over it. I was sure to make it so the front could open (you can see the front opening in the photo above). I couldn't believe that something so simple could be so effective.

After I built the cold frame, I planted my vegetable plants outside. I started the plants from seed in my house. After just a few days, they were growing pretty rapidly. I would leave the front door of the cold frame open during the day, and close it at night. The cold frame was really helpful when we had that late-spring frost--my plants survived.

Check out the tomato and cucumber plants.

Tomato Plants:

Jumpin' Zach Flash, Oldiez 96.1

Cucumber plants:

Jumpin' Zach Flash, Oldiez 96.1

If you're looking for a way to start your plants early and protect them from unpredictable weather (especially, here, in the Mohawk Valley), I would recommend building one of these cold frames on your garden beds. It was inexpensive, and it gave my plants an early start.