From time to time you might see me mention a cloche. It dawned on me today that there are probably a few out there who have no clue what that word means.
For lack of a better definition, a cloche is basically a miniature, easy-to-move greenhouse.
ADVANTAGES OF A CLOCHE
There are many, but these are the chief benefits of cloche gardening:
- Extends the growing season….you can plant seedlings a month earlier and extend fall harvest
- Protects your seedlings from the occasional harsh weather of spring and fall
- Retains heat and humidity, thus saving water evaporation
- They are portable so you can move it from one planting area to the next easily.
- They are inexpensive, the expense really dependent on the size you build and materials you use.
HOW TO BUILD A CLOCHE
There is no one-size-fits-all instruction manual for building a cloche. Determine how big you want it, determine what materials you have and improvise.
We made our last one using a leftover sheet of clear plastic and some used PVC pipe we had around. The pipe made a hooped structure and we just taped the plastic on to the structure.
We have also made them using wooden pallets…stand two pallets next to each other so they form a triangle…screw them together at the top….staple plastic on the pallets.
If you want to go smaller, use plastic soda bottles for cloches for individual plants like tomato starters.
If you have spare lumber laying around, build a frame using 1”x3”s or even 1”x2”s and staple the plastic on that frame. It is lightweight and will cover quite a few seedlings.
BEYOND THE CLOCHE
If you want something a little bit more permanent then move up to a cold frame. Build a square or rectangle out of wood, attach a clear roof on it with hinges, and again, extend your growing season. And then, of course, after all that practice, you can really move up in size and get a greenhouse, which we are doing next spring.
You can spend as much as you want. I’ve seen cloches at gardening supply stores that cost sixty bucks but I’m far too frugal to spend that kind of money. I make do with what I have.
I hope that gives you something to think about as you plan your gardening for next spring.