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An A -to-Z on Cloches For Your Garden

An A -to-Z on Cloches For Your Garden


14 minute read

Here is our A-to-Z guide of Gardening Cloches . . . simply everything you need to know about this garden essential  


Cloches for use in your garden are available in a wide range of sizes, styles and materials but what they all have in common is that they are easy to transport, low to the ground and will provide instant protection against the elements.
Keep reading to learn a wide range of interesting facts about why cloches can prove invaluable to both the amateur and professional gardener . . . 

Air-borne diseases can be reduced
Common air-borne disease, such as downy mildew of basil, cucumbers, lettuces, onions, peas etc can be reduced by using cloches. These types of disease are spread by airborne spores and infection spreads faster in wet weather or when plant leaves are constantly wet.

Using a cloche acts as a physical barrier from both wind and rain and as long as you are careful to ensure that you allow adequate ventilation, your plants should suffer less from these types of diseases.

Bell cloches
The first cloches used by gardeners were bell shaped and they are the simplest type of cloche available. Basically in the shape of a bell they are used to cover induvial plants or a small cluster of newly sown seeds. Available to gardeners today you’ll find these bell cloches being made from two types of material, either glass or plastic.  

Plastic Bell Cloches

Plastic bell cloches are the modern alternative to glass bell cloches, with the advantage that most have adjustable air vents in the top enabling you to maximise the plants growing environment throughout the year. 

As these cloches are lightweight compared to the glass versions it is very important that they are firmly anchored to the ground. 

Click here to see full details. 

bell cloches

Cover your cloche with black polythene
Some crops will taste better if they are excluded from light for a couple of weeks prior to being picked. The bitterness of leafy salad crops like chicory or endive will be reduced and they will become more tender and succulent. A simple way to achieve this ‘blanching’ process is to cover the cloche they are growing under with black polythene. Pegged down securely this will prevent light reaching your crops as they mature.


DIY cloches 
As canny gardeners we like to be able to recycle and when it comes to cloches re-using discarded sheets of glass or plastic to create your own, DIY versions is possible.

The types of cloches which you can make using flat sheets of stiff plastic or glass are ‘tent’ shaped cloches but ideally you need a way to join them together at the top to hold them in place. 

DIY cloches

Super Cloche Clips 

We've designed these robust clips to grip glass, polycarbonate, acrylic or any other rigid plastic enabling you to make all sizes of cloche from almost any suitable material you may have to hand.

These clips will last a lifetime and can be used over and over again, season after season.

Click here to see full details. 

Extend the growing season

Frost protection
Whether it’s in the Spring or for Autumn sown crops, cloches will provide instant frost protection. Rather than using layers of garden fleece over your plants, use a cloche which is covered with fleece or made using glass or double-skinned plastic and it will be quicker and easier to position and anchor and won’t be touching your plants.  

Fleece Tunnel 

This clever, one piece tunnel cloche incorporates high grade 45 gsm polypropylene fleece to create warmth and insulation whilst still allowing water and sunlight to filter through.

Use to encourage spring vegetables to ripen earlier by maintaining a constant temperature and protection from the weather.

Click here to see full details. 

haxnicks tunnel cloche with fleece cover

Glass cloches
Traditionally styled glass bell cloches are effective as a cloche as they provide weather and pest protection and at the same time will look attractive in your garden – so if you have a traditional kitchen garden which can be viewed from your home this type of glass cloche could be the perfect addition.

The only thing to consider is that this type of glass cloche does not have any built-in ventilation so would need you to prop it up on hotter days to prevent your plants from overheating and let them benefit from air circulation.  

Access Glass Bell Cloches

The glass of these cloches will trap the heat from the suns’ rays better than plastic, creating a warmer environment for your plants.

Available in three different sizes, because these cloches are made from hand blown glass no two cloches will be identical.

Click here to see full details. 

glass bell cloches

Top Tip
Don’t think that these attractive glass cloches can only be used outside in your garden. They could also be used over plants in containers, to cover plants in your greenhouse or even indoors.

Humidity  

Individual plants can be protected 
Bell or lantern cloches are the perfect way to provide instant weather protection to individual plants. These types of cloches can be placed over your plants in their existing positions – so they don’t have to be uprooted and moved to a cold frame or greenhouse. This makes these perfect for cold weather snaps where you might only need to protect plants for a few days or weeks. Or as a simple way to protect more tender plants through the colder months of the year.

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Keep crops dry, reducing foliar diseases
Leaf diseases on plants become a concern during cool, wet weather conditions, with rain providing an efficient way for fungal and bacterial spores to spread. By preventing the rain from reaching your plants then the opportunity for these types of diseases to flourish is reduced.

However, you do need to ensure that you keep control of the humidity levels within the enclosed area of your cloche as this can also cause problems. Ideally you need a cloche which allows for some type of ventilation – this could be a built-in air vent, a panel which could be opened throughout parts of the day, or in the case of glass bell cloches could be the case of lifting the cloche up on a piece of wood on hot days to allow the air in, reduce temperature and humidity levels fall.

Access Cloche Planter

Even though all of Access Garden Products are glazed with glass, they have taken into consideration the need for good ventilation in the design of their Cloche Planter. 

A slight gap has been left between the two side panels and the roof panels to allow for gentle ventilation. Whilst the gap under each end panel can be blocked up with earth during cold spells. 

Click here to see full details. 

access herb and salad cloche

Lantern cloches
Used in the same way as bell cloches, Lantern Cloches are even more decorative so would be an added point of interest in a traditional kitchen garden. Using a combination of cast iron and glass these are weighty cloches which don’t need to be anchored in place and will withstand rain, snow and gales. 

Lantern Cloche

Cast Iron Garden Cloches

Inspired by the cloches used in Victorian gardens, these cloches have a cast iron frame and horticultural glass panels.

These cloches feature removeable lids, so they can be rotated through 45 degrees for ventilation or removed completely when needing to access your plants. 

Click here to see full details.

Metal hoops
If you want to cover a large area with a cloche then using metal hoops to make your own ‘tunnel cloche’ could be the answer. The aim of these hoops is to provide a way to keep a covering over your plants without touching the plants – for example rather than covering your plants by throwing over some garden fleece to keep them weather protected, you can cover the hoops with fleece instead. 

Cloche Hoop Packs

To make it easy for you to construct your own large, tunnel cloches we have designed these cloche hoop packs.

Hoops and support bars are included - simply cover with fleece, polythene or net to create the perfect cloche for your requirements. 

Click here to see full details.  

metal cloche hoops

Due to the size of the cloches you can construct in this way, many crops can be grown from when they are sown right through until they are ready to crop – simply changing the covering over the hoops to suit the time of the year. 

Night time heat loss can be reduced

One week before planting position your cloche
This pre-covering of the growing area will allow the temperature of the soil covered by the cloche to increase sufficiently that if you are transplanting new, young plants into the ground, the temperature of the soil where the roots will be will have accumulated some warmth.

Although temperatures near the surface of the soil will still tend to fluctuate, lower in the soil where the roots of your plants will go will accumulate the most warmth. 

Soil Thermometer

Soil Thermometer

Designed to check soil temperature, this robust glass thermometer with aluminium casing is the easy way to see if temperatures are increased when using a cloche.

Displaying temperature in degrees Celcius and Fahrenheit this 8in thermometer has a metal tip enabling it to be easily pushed into the ground. 

Click here to see full details.

You’ll find glass cloches to be the most effective at increasing temperatures as they will retain more warmth overnight compared to single skin, plastic cloches. 

Plastic cloches 

Gro-Zone Gro-Cloche

This huge cloche features a heavy duty, reinforced, shaped cover made from high density PE.

For easy access to all the growing space it has a large, roll-up, zipped front panel.

Top quality webbing and ties securely fasten the cover to its sturdy steel frame.

Click here to see full details.  

plastic cloches

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Rows of plants can be protected
You can protect long rows of plants using a single tunnel cloche. If you’re a keen DIY’er then you can design and construct your own tunnel cloche to perfectly fit your row of plants – creating the correct width and length for your requirements. Or you can purchase a pre-made tunnel cloche so less construction is required.

tunnel cloches protecting rows of plants

Haxnicks Tunnel Cloches

These one piece tunnel cloches are the easiest way to protect a row of plants.

Supplied folded flat, they combine galvanised steel hoops with high quality UV stabilised fabrics.

No assembly is required - simply open up the concertina style tunnel and push the hoop ends into the ground to hold them firmly in place. 

Click here to see full details.  

Soft growth
For leafy crops, such as cabbage, lettuce, spinach etc one of the benefits of a cloche being left in position as they grow is that they will be protected from the wind helping to promote ‘softer’ growth. 

Tunnel cloches
As the name suggests, these cloches are ‘tunnel’ shaped making them perfect for use in a vegetable garden or at an allotment where you may need to protect a long row of plants.

Tunnel cloches come in lots of sizes and styles and can be made from a wide range of materials. What you need to consider when making you choice of tunnel cloche is:

weeding – as your tunnel cloche could be used from when you sow your seeds or transplant young plants into the ground until they are ready to crop you will need some way to access your plants for weeding. As your plants flourish under the protection of a cloche so can weeds. For shorter tunnel cloches it might be simply a case of lifting up the cloche – weeding – then putting the cloche back into place. 

For longer cloches, such as the Haxnick’s Tunnel Cloches, you can just lift and move the cloche from one end or the other, squishing up the cloche as you weed.

One weeding is finished simply pull the cloche back into its full length and push the steel hoops back in place.

Click here to see full details.  

tunnel cloches

watering – if you plan to leave your tunnel cloche in position through the whole life of your plants then you might want to think about setting up a watering system prior to planting. Weeping hose can be laid along the whole length of the cloche and connected to your mains water to drip directly onto the ground. If mains water isn’t an option you could set of a drip system connected to a water butt or tank of water. Or if a watering can is your only way to water then you need to be able to lift the cloche out of place whilst you water. 

Gardeners Cloches

Gardeners Cloches 

When we designed our Gardeners Cloches we incorporated a unique self watering rainwater collection channel along the top.

When it rains the water is diverted along the channel, through the holes and direct to your plants.

You can use a watering can to fill this channel, watering your plants without having to remove the cloche.

Click here to see full details. 

ventilation – whilst your tunnel cloche is in position you still need to allow fresh air to reach your plants. You will find that some tunnel cloches, such as the Haxnick's Cloches, the ends can be opened to allow air to flow through. Whilst others may have built in vents which can be opened as required. 

Super Dome Polytunnel 

Bio Green have ensured there is ample ventilation with their polytunnel cloche by including two large side opening along the length of the tunnel.

Not only good for ventilation they also allows you to easily reach your plants for tending and watering. 

Click here to see full details. 

Bio Green Super Dome Polytunnel

Use as a physical barrier
Cloches provide a barrier to the great British weather but are also a useful barrier to pests – depending on the type of cover on the cloche will depend on which pests will be prevented from reaching your plants.

They will instantly form a barrier for an inquisitive puppy, neighbour’s cat or wild birds. You’ll also find some cloches which use an insect proof mesh as their covering and as the name suggests these will protect your crops from pesky insects that can destroy crops.

Giant Micromesh Tunnel

Micromesh Tunnel Cloche 

The ultimate insect barrier carrot-fly, root-fly, flea-beetle and aphids are all stopped from reaching your plants by the ultra-fine mesh which forms the cover of this tunnel cloche. 

Supplied ready assembled, folded flat it's quick and easy to put in position to protect a row of crops. 

Click here to see full details. 

Victorian glass bell cloches
Did you know that the word ‘cloche’ is French for bell and that the first cloches were simple glass bells used in the garden to protect plants? 

Glass cloches were first invented in Italy in 1623 and were readily adopted by the French, followed by English and Dutch Gardeners.

As glass was so expensive, these early glass cloches were only used in the gardens of the wealthy. Whilst the more modest gardener would have used old glass jars to protect plants in their gardens.

victorian glass bell cloches

Warm the soil
You can pre-warm the area you are going to be growing your plants by using a cloche, which will enable crops to germinate earlier than usual.

It's been found that by using a cloche you can increase the soil temperature by up to 10 degrees Celsius which is why you can start planting earlier and that seeds will germinate faster when you are sowing crops directly into the ground. To gain the most benefit of this temperature increase, it’s best to put the cloche in place about 7-10 days before you start planting.

So, if you are using a tunnel cloche for protecting a row of vegetables, you will be able to start planting approx. 3-4 weeks earlier than normal and by leaving the cloche in place as your plants grow, mature and are ready to crop you will extend the cropping season by another 3-4 weeks.

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