One great way to bring your harvest forward a few weeks is to shelter plants from wind and frost with a simple, inexpensive cloche. Build your cloche in January, and it'll be ready to use when you move your seeds outdoors in February or March. The beauty of a cloche is that you can make one out of just about anything. It can be large or small, short or tall, fixed or mobile. Here are a few ways to build a cloche:
- Recycle a cracked, transparent, 5-gallon water container into a cloche by cutting out the bottom and placing it, like a large bell, over tender young seedlings.
- Fill a large bucket or small barrel with soil and place a stake in the center. Insert plant pots and cover the works with plastic sheeting. Finally, secure the plastic by weighing down the edges with bricks or by installing a locking ring around the top of the bucket.
- Bend lengths of half-inch PVC pipe into hoops (similar to a croquet wicket). Cut the ends at an angle (forming a sharp point) and drive them into the ground. Create as many hoops as you need, and then cover them with painter's plastic to form an open-ended tunnel over your garden bed. Weigh down the plastic with gallon jugs or anchor it with garden stakes.
Similar to a cloche, a cold frame is yet another perfect winter gardening project. Learn how to make one after the jump.