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Cold frame management for container conifers (0 Replies)

Posted November 27, 2018 at 1:28 pm

Hi Friends,

I am a first-year conifer collector (with 20 years as a forest ecologist) and I have two cold frames for the plants in my collection that are Zone 4 and higher. Location is NW Connecticut and they are situated on the north side of my house. Since my soil type is riverwash (we live next to a river), I was only able to sink the frames about 4″ into the ground. I mulched all around the frames to about 6″ – 8″ above ground and added 4 intact bags of mulch to the front. There is about 4″ to 5″ of mulch inside. The entire assembly is underlain with hardware cloth turned up around the outside edges of the frames. During last week’s 2degF overnight low, the interior mulch temp never got below about 20degF.

My plants are in the cold frames, but I am concerned about moisture buildup in the frames … there is a lot of condensation on all surfaces. I have three questions:

1. Should I be opening a window or two periodically to let some of the moisture vent to the atmosphere?

2. I have a nursery thermostat and the heating pads are set under the mulch in the frames. I currently have them set to keep the temperature to no lower than 15degF. Sound right?

3. Should I add more mulch to the interior?

Also interested in any other opinions/advice on this setup and its maintenance across the winter.

Thanks,
Harry

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