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Make an Easy, Free Garden Cloche from Trash

Updated on February 3, 2013
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

Lengthen the Growing Season with a Cloche

If you want to lengthen your growing season one of the easiest ways to do it is with a portable garden cloche. Cloches been used for hundreds of years to shelter delicate plants from cold winds, late season frosts, and even garden pests. In fact, the first bell shaped glass cloches were used in Italy in the early 1600s. It was the French that developed the bell shaped glass jar that is the familiar cloche design of today,

While glass cloches are a charming addition to any garden there are other, less expensive ways to accomplish the same thing. Empty gallon milk cartons, two liter soda bottles, and even chipped Mason jars can find a second life as a garden cloche. Plan on removing the covers during the warmer parts of the day so that the plants don't cook!

Garden cloches protect young seedling from harsh weather and pests. Image:(c)2008 Marye Audet
Garden cloches protect young seedling from harsh weather and pests. Image:(c)2008 Marye Audet

Soda Bottle Cloche

To make a soda bottle cloche carefully trim the bottom off of a two liter clear soda bottle. In very sunny areas you may want to use a tinted bottle to help keep some of the sun out. Remove the label so that sunlight has access from all directions.

Place the cloche over the plant and settle into the soil slightly. If you keep the twist top you can put it on when the weather is especially cold or take it off to allow the heat to dissipate on warm days. Soda bottle cloches are especially good for smaller sized plants like peppers and newly transplanted tomatoes.

Milk Jug Cloche

A milk jug cloche is made in much the same way as the soda bottle cloche. It is larger, and therefore is good for larger tomatoes. A milk jug cloche may often help gardeners in areas with very short, cool growing seasons grow tomatoes successfully. Again, the top may be removed as needed to keep the heat within the cloche from building up.

Using Milk Cartons as Mini Solar Heaters for Plants

Another way to use milk cartons to lengthen the growing season is by using solar heat to keep the plants warm. Do this by filling milk cartons with water and placing them around the plants. The sun will heat up the water in the day time and the heat will be released to the plant all night keeping it warm and growing.

Mason Jar, or Wine Bottle Cloche

A chipped Mason jar may not be good for very much other than use as an impromptu vase but it can be used as a glass cloche. It will act as a terrarium because of the heaviness of the glass and will not only keep the plants warmer than the plastic will but will also keep seedlings moist and watered. Care must be taken when using glass that the plants don't get too hot.

You can use a glass cutter to cut the bottom from a wine bottle to make a cloche, as well. By using wine bottles you can get different tints in the glass and different sizes to handle the special needs of your eco-system.

Turn it upside down over tender seedlings during cool weather.
Turn it upside down over tender seedlings during cool weather. | Source

Tent Cloche

The tent cloche is made up of two panels of glass or clear plastic. You lean them together at the top to form a triangle. You can use two old windows for this by attaching them together with a set of hinges. This design will cover several plants in one row. Since the cloche is open at both ends it offers good ventilation but less protection than other cloche designs. The windows can also be held together with duct tape for a quick fix.

There are several other ways to make cloches, limited only by the materials at hand and your imagination. You can even make them by placing plastic over tomato cages.


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    • louromano profile image


      6 years ago

      Greeting ! Thanks !

    • DonnaCSmith profile image

      Donna Campbell Smith 

      6 years ago from Central North Carolina

      think I'll give it a try!

    • Nomason profile image


      7 years ago from Nigeria


    • profile image

      Portable Garden shelter 

      7 years ago

      My wife and I put out a garden every year. There are times when we get it out a little early because we get the "itch". Some of the garden plant receive some damage from the cold weather so they need a little shelter. I've never heard of this "cloche" before. Sound like a great idea. Thanks for the info.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I'm embarrassed to say this but I had not heard of a cloche. If only I would have know about this a few months back I could have saved some of my herbs for a while longer and got to use all of them.

    • profile image

      Maralyn Jones 

      8 years ago

      Cloche is such a nice word which i have heard for the first time and also the information about the cloche is great...

    • RTalloni profile image


      8 years ago from the short journey

      What a cool name for an old idea! Thanks to you my mind is wandering to the creative...wouldn't it be fun to paint some special cloche designs on jars and bottles, or to form some from clay, or design some that could be used as wind chimes...okay, I'll quit. Thanks again :)

    • adorababy profile image


      8 years ago from Syracuse, NY

      Cloche are indeed beautiful garden pieces. They remind me of the animated movie "Beauty and the Beast" where the last rose was kept inside a cloche.

    • salt profile image


      8 years ago from australia

      thanks, very helpful information. I never knew the word Cloche, now I do.

    • johnr54 profile image

      Joanie Ruppel 

      10 years ago from Texas

      I could have used this a couple of weeks ago. We had a late frost (almost 4 weeks after the average last frost date in North Texas) and I had to cover all sorts of things to keep them from dying. I found the easiest to deal with was the hanging tomato planter, I just moved it to the garage, but the rest of it was covered with tarps and blankets, hanging over the other tomato cages.


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