Protecting Your Winter Garden With Cloches
What is a Cloche?
A cloche is one of many ways to protect your winter garden from the snow, ice, sleet, cold and wind. Cloche is the French word for bell. (It is pronounced kl-osh). Today the word cloche is used typically when something is “bell-shaped”, such as a hat or a food covering. French gardeners placed the bells over the plants to act as portable miniature green houses. The original garden cloches were large bell shaped glass jars. Though a cloche comes in various sizes it usually covers one plant which makes it very easy to move. The modern garden cloche isn’t as elegant as the original glass bell but some offer the same, if not better frost and temperature protection. They are easy to vent and made of lightweight materials, and some can be stored very easily.
Types of Cloches
Bell -Garden cloches come in various sizes, shapes and different materials. There is the classic bell shaped made from glass or plastic. Some have a hole or vent in the top and some are solid. The solar bell is based on the glass garden cloche but made of plastic, therefore much lighter, stackable and much more affordable. Yet they are sturdy enough to protect against wind and pest as well as cold.
Milk container -You can make your own cloche simply by cutting off the bottom of a milk jug and the cap can be taken off to vent it during the day, or you can remove the entire jug.
Lantern- The lantern cloche, which has a frame and glass or plastic, is heavier and more wind resistant. They not only hold up in the wind but they are very easy to store when not in use. The lid comes off, and the sides are held together with pins that are easily taken out for storage.
Water Cloche – The theory to using water is the sun warms the water, heats the soil and air around the plant therefore protects your plants from the harsh winter months. These are made from plastic tubes, that surround the plant and you fill it with water.
Bamboo- These are made of bamboo woven into a dome shape. It doesn’t look like it would protect much but it actually does protect your plants from a light frosts in the spring and fall. Fleece or newspaper can be used to cover the plant inside the cloche during heavy frost. It allows the rain to get through to the plants but protect from damage.
Hot Kaps – Made from waxed paper, these are also shaped as domes. They can be set in place quickly and easily for emergency protection. These are great for you last minute needs. They are meant to be disposable, however they can be re-used if they’re handled with care. Once they are no longer needed they can be disposed of in a compost.
Things to Consider about Cloches
Depending on what you want to achieve and where you live, will determine how much protection you’ll need for your plants. Trying to extend the growing season, can be as simple as covering up our plants to protect them from the frost or having a heated green house in the colder climates.
When selecting a cloche, you should consider how airtight it is. More attention is needed for an airtight cloche to prevent overheating and possible killing your plants in the warmer climates. However, the trapped air will also remain warmer on cold nights. If you want more freedom of leaving the cloches unattended you can put a block in the cloche to vent it, or leave the top open.
You will also want to consider how well your cloches will stand up with
Bamboo, Bell and Lantern Cloches
the weight of snow, if you live in the north. The material it’s made of and its durability should be considered. Glass will last forever unless it cracks while the wax paper can be thrown away. Finally consider where your storage will be when you’re not using them.
Pros and Cons of Cloches
They are small, and easy to store. Some are stackable, some even disposable. They can be used as a cover for starter seeds in the spring or to protect your plants from the wind, frost, snow, and sleet. They are excellent for individual plants.The only downfall I can see if you have a lot of plants to cover up it would take a lot of cloches. They also wouldn’t work with taller plants.