As Autumn arrives the cosy jumpers come out of hibernation, the leaves start to fall and the lush greenness of the allotment fades slowly from sight… There are however, plenty of crops that can continue growing outside with just a little help from cloches.
Spring Cabbage, Spinach, Swiss Chard, Winter lettuce and Lambs lettuce can all be planted out into the garden or allotment now and with the use of cloches can provide a delicious crop throughout the Winter.
Not only are cloches extremely useful at the end of the growing season but they can be used early in the year aswell. Place over empty areas to help warm the soil ready for sowings and you can get a nice early crop. Cloches can raise the soil temperature by up to 10°C and hasten germination of direct-sown crops by 10-14 days. They can also help protect against diseases and pests but are most effective at deterring birds.
Cloches also offer protection from the elements as well. Heavy rain and hail can damage small seedlings and can flood the ground which will cause some crops to rot. There can be no guarantee that a hard frost won’t hit us in October too so be sure to have cloches at the ready if the weather suddenly changes.
Handmade in Hampshire by my clever Dad using a solid steel bar with a natural rust finish. These simple hoops can be used to transform a 66cm wide piece of PVC roofing sheet (not included but available at most DIY stores) into a handy cloche, simply slide the hoops onto the sheeting and you have instant protection for young vegetables. When not in use the sheets and hoops can be stored flat ready and waiting for the next cold season.
Never had better peas or broad beans than I did when overwintering under these last year. Fingers crossed for the same again!