Mindy McIntosh-Shetter AKA Mindar the gardening gnome and guest blogger has written an article on early gardening with your own homemade cloche. Mindy has a graduate degree in Agriculture Education from Purdue University and is presently finishing her Masters from the University of Louisville in Environmental Education and Urban Planning.Check out her website mindarthegardeninggnome.com and Youtube channel.
by Mindy McIntosh-Shetter
A cloche by definition is a bell shaped glass jar that is used to protect plants. This appliance has been used for years in Europe but finding old world ones is difficult and very expensive. Alternatives do exist and can be found in many seed catalog's. They consist of a cone-shaped plastic structure that is two walled. This structure is slipped over the plant in the late spring. The space between the two walls is then filled with water. As the sun shines on the plastic, the water heats up and keeps the air surrounding the plant warm.
Cloches work very similar except they create an environment that is more like a miniature greenhouse. During the day, the soil will absorb sunlight. During the evening hours, this heat is released. A cloche helps trap that heat and allows the trapped air inside the cloche to warm up. This warmed air is what protects the plant from the cold.
A simple cloche is easy to make and does not take a lot of time. It is a great project for kids to do and allows them to become involved in the gardening process.
To begin making a cloche, one will need to get a few supplies together. You will need a clear 2-liter bottle with lid intact or a clean milk jug with lid. If you are using a 2-liter bottle, make sure to remove the label from the container before making the cloche.
The other items you will need are a knife, tape measure, and marker. If you are doing this project with children, make sure to have a cutting board available and always use knife safety.
To begin this process, one must measure the plant you plan to cover. You do not want the leaves of the plant touching the top or sides of the cloche. Another consideration is the fact that the cloche will need to be removed every morning and replaced every night. The reason is simple. The closed environment will buildup heat and cook your plant. To prevent this, one must remove the cloche or use the end with the cap. The cap can just be removed in the morning and replaced in the evening.
After you have your measurement and have decided how you want to handle the removal of the cloche, the next step is to transfer the measurement to the 2-liter bottle or milk jug.
Once the measurement is on the container, simply cut along the line with a sharp knife.
Now that the container has been prepared, you are now ready to get your plants in the ground up to 4 weeks sooner. Using a cloche, will allow you to be the first one in your neighborhood with fresh, hyper local produce this season.