Make an Easy, Free Garden Cloche from Trash
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!
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.
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.