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immerse yourself at the farm in the wood
Project: cold frames We left our lives in England behind us when we bought this house in the summer of 2014 not only to live in beautiful Tuscany, our favourite holiday destination, but also to make important changes to our lives so that we could live more in line with our values, reduce our footprint on the planet and start living what we hope will turn out to be our dream. As we work our way towards living a more sustainable, self-sufficient lifestyle, we have embarked on a number of DIY/upcycling/recycling projects. “Project cold frames” came about when we realised that we wouldn’t be able to erect a poly tunnel until we’d been through a lengthy process to obtain permission from the local council, by which time we’d have missed the window of opportunity for planting seeds. This realisation coincided with us having the old (though not original) ill-fitting, single-paned, draughty windows in the house replaced with beautifully hand-crafted double-glazed chestnut-framed windows. As the window fitters drove away, leaving us with a pile of five sets of windows, the idea of “project cold frames” was born. Step 1: Clean off the old window frames, removing strips of silicon, expandable foam, protruding nails and any other extraneous material. Step 2: Measure the width and height of the window frames (having come out of an old farmhouse, each set of windows was a slightly different size and shape), before cutting pieces of tongue-and-groove to size. Step 3: Fix the tongue-and-groove to four corner posts (we used offcuts of wood that we had lying around following the demolition of a wooden shed, but 50mx50m pieces of timber are a good size), ensuring that one of the sides is fixed the opposite way around to the other three (i.e. tongue down). Step 4: Add tongue-and-groove panels until the cold frame reach the required height - ensuring that the rear has one more panel than the other sides. Step 5: Take one piece of wood the appropriate size for the sides of the cold frame and cut in half diagonally, to give you one piece for each side. Fix these pieces to the sides of the box. Step 6: Trim the corner posts to the correct height. Step 7: Fix the windows to the top of the cold frame. Step 8: Stain the wood. Step 9: Move into position and fill with seedlings! (With thanks to Zach Penzone, Holly Leske and Jill Martin for their help in the manufacture of these.)