Is it getting snappy in your garden? The edge is in the wind here, and I know that frost is just around the corner. Sure, the days look warm, but it’s most definitely fall. If you live in a cooler climate, you may even have frost by now. The tender leaves of most vegetables do not love the cold. What can you do to extend the harvest of all of your lovely vegetables this fall?
A simple cloche is a great gardening tool to have one hand. What is a cloche? It is a jar or another device that you place on top of an individual plant or small groups of plants to provide extra protection from the cold. A cloche acts like a miniature greenhouse for your plants. It increases the temperature of the surrounding air by a few degrees so that your plants will survive for a few weeks longer. In our area, this means that we can harvest summers’ leafy greens into November.
French cloches are absolutely beautiful. They are bell-shaped jars that fit over individual plants, and they are made out of glass. However, they are also expensive. If you want a less regal-looking miniature greenhouse, you can cut a hole in the top of a large milk jug and place it upside-down over top of your plants. You can also fashion small greenhouses out of old windows or greenhouse sheeting. Just make sure that whatever you reuse does not contain flakes of lead paint, since you don’t want that in your vegetable garden.
You need to remember to care for the plants under your cloche. Water will rise from the ground and water the plants on sunny days. If the soil gets too dry under the cloche, you will need to water the plants a little bit. Once the ground freezes, life gets more difficult for your plants and this may be the end of the cloche season unless you can move the plants into a larger greenhouse.
Have you used a fall cloche in your garden?