One great way to bring your harvest forward a few weeks is to shelter plants from wind and frost with a simple, inexpensive cloche. A cloche is simply a covering for protecting plants from cold temperatures. You can build your cloche anytime, as long as it will 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.