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Protecting your plants with Cloches.  



Cloches can be of any shape - as long as they protect the plants underneath!

Cloches in the vegetable garden can extend your growing season and help to to get earlier vegetable crops.

Traditionally, cloches have been shaped like mini-polythene tunnels, or a a two-sided wigwam out of a couple of sheets of glass - which is basically what that type of cloche is! Nowadays, garden centres will have a selection of plant protection covers that may or may not resemble the old fashioned cloches. No problem. As long as the 'cover' is clear, has an air vent, and is large enough for the plants that you have in mind, then it will be suitable for protecting the plant for a short while at least.

Bell Cloches are good for some vegetablesA plastic bottle with the bottom cut out is a good cloche compromise for getting smaller plants off to a good start for a few weeks in the spring.

Some plants can spend their entire lives under the protection of a cloche, others simply need a warm, early start to life in the earlier part of spring.

A few ideas on using your cloches for protecting your vegetable plants to good advantage.

  • Sow dwarf hardy peas or broad beans in October or even November. They can stay in the cloches until April or My, when they will be well established.
  • In May, the cloches can be used to move on a few bush tomato plants, or peppers, cucumbers and melons even.
  • Move them to cover and protect some August planted Autumn Lettuce or carrots.

There are many other uses to which cloche protection of your vegetables can be put. Sow your seeds a little bit earlier, or plant out your crops sooner.

Glass is better than plastic for transmitting light and also keeping the heat better in the evenings - much better for protecting your veggies. Glass can break, and cloches made from glass are more difficult to move from one crop to another.

Make sure that your cloches are well anchored down to the ground, or in windy weather they will fly like a kite. Bell jar cloches are normally secure as they can be buried a few inches into the ground. These are particularly good for prtecting the taller growing plants in the first stages - beans peas etc.

Whatever type of cloche you use, make good use of it in protecting your crops at start or end of season, or giving some slower growing plants a bit of a kick start to life. 

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