Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The cold frame

The CAD project
All of you older than 40, as myself, for certain must remember the popular TV show MacGyver. For younger people and those that have short memories, Italy's La7 TV network is currently airing reruns, monday to friday at about 4.00pm.
This series is about a bunch of action/thriller plots, where the protagonist, since he doesn't have the usual improbable James Bond-style super-technological tools available, is very good in finding equally improbable solutions with anything that happens to come in handy. And so for example he ends up building a bomb with a soda bottle, a package of fertilizer and a dog collar, maybe remotely controlled with a make-up mirror, the bottom of a broken glass and the cap of the previously mentioned soda bottle. Obviously at the end of the episode our hero will defeat, at least for today, the bad guys.

R, English-American mothertongue, made me laugh a lot explaining that MacGyver's art of "winging it" was so popular in the States that the name itself became, in the popular slang, a verb: "to macgyver", with also its proper past and participle "macgyvered" and the continuous forms "macgyvering".
In few words it means something like "to solve a problem cheaply with a smart solution, using whatever possible that one already has". In particular it defines the success in managing the little bricolage works for the house. In italian it could be translated with the verb "mecgaiverare", although it sounds really ugly!

Spring is coming (hopefully) and R has already begun to have some seeds sprouting in plastic cups she keeps cozy in the house. Before being transplanted in their final destination (the dirt of the garden), the little plants will have to spend some time in little vases on the terrace, having the light of the sun but still being protected from the air, that in this area is still cold. For this purpose we need a cold frame. I don't know the Italian word to define this thing that R described for me, but i can say my grandpa used something like that too.
It is a kind of wooden box, open in the bottom and with a top part sloping toward the sun. It is made by one or more transparent windows, that can be opened in the hot days.

So here i am in MacGyver's shoes, to project and build the cold frame.

Work in progress.
I built the sides with lightweight boards, the ones that are used to decorate the walls. I found them second-quality, i cut and put them together with a more solid structure made out of stronger pieces of wood.
The windows are two transparent plastic sheets, assembled in a wooden frame, then attached to the sides by hinges.

Here is the final result
All of this costed 29.50 euros (15 for the plastic sheets, 12.50 for the matchboards, 2 for the hinges) plus some waterproof impregnating paint to protect the wooden parts (22 euros for a 2.5 liters can, but i used just a little bit of it). The rest was material i had left over when i built the work table.

...I macgyvered it!

1 comment:

tychecat said...

Cold frames are still quite popular among subsistance gardeners here in the US. They are a simple effective way to get a head start on spring planting. Just keep them away from falling ice.
Frankly I never heard of "McGivering" - but then I'm probably too old for that particular slang term - It came and went while I wasn't listening.