Protecting Your Plants
Providing protection for seedlings and young or tender plants means that they can be sown or planted earlier than normal and also saved during those unexpected spells of bad weather that can happen at any time of year. It also means we can give some extra help to hardy plants that need to spend the winter outside and that we might actually get to eat some of our crops rather than leaving them exposed for birds and insects to feast on!
One of the most popular form of protection is the cloche. A cloche can be a small dome, a long tunnel or any other form of miniature greenhouse. It is important to match your cloche to the crop that you intend to grow. So make sure that the height of the cloche is above the maximum height of the plant and that the leaves won't get damaged by touching the sides.
Place your cloche in position a couple of weeks before sowing and planting and this will both dry and warm the soil in preparation.
Cloches come in different materials including glass, plastic, fleece and netting.
- Glass – gives clarity, maximum heat retention, longevity and wind resistance
- Plastic – lightweight which makes it easy to move around the plot, safe and economical
- Net – protects against birds and some insects and also provides some shade in summer
- Fleece – provides warmth and allows rain and air through whilst stopping small bugs and insects
Mounding up earth and using mulch is another form of protection against cold, as is wrapping pots in bubble wrap and making plants snug beneath fleece for the winter.
When it comes to fruit few of us mind sharing a portion of the crop with the garden birds but they can be greedy and eat the whole lot! A fruit cage is the ideal answer or any form of netting but please do check it frequently to make sure that no intrepid bird has tried so hard to break in that they have become entangled.