Cloche is the French word for bell, which makes sense when you see their traditional shape and design. These low structures were used to grow plants out of season on French farms and market gardens.
Cloches are designed to fit neatly over plants in the garden or in raised beds. They warm the enclosed soil, extending the growing season by up to four weeks at either end. They can also give certain plants the head start or helping hand they need in our moderate climate.
Cloches can be easily moved around. When the weather gets very warm they can be propped up or raised slightly to provide ventilation and airflow (This also allows access for pollinating insects). Having said that, many cloche designs feature ventilation holes at the top.
Although they’re not completely pest-proof, cloches can provide protection and a barrier against common garden pests. They also protect against frost and wind.
The garden cloche provides extra protection for young plants or seedlings as they get established. You can also use it to overwinter semi-hardy perennials, or for growing winter lettuces and asian greens. For a ‘double glazing’ effect, cloches can be used within your greenhouse or polytunnel.
A further potential use of a cloche is for ‘blanching’ salad crops like endive, celery or romaine lettuce. It involves using a black polythene cover to exclude light for the last couple of weeks before they are ready to harvest. This reduces bitterness and leads to tender leaves and a milder taste.
Cloches and growhouses are a great solution if you can’t afford or don’t have the space for a larger covered structure like a greenhouse or polytunnel.
Our lantern cloches are designed to cover a larger area. These are square-shaped, although in practice they have a less precise tent-like appearance. Lantern cloches are available with polythene, fleece or micromesh coverings, giving you a range of options that are adaptable to different weather conditions or plant needs.
Tunnel cloches or coverings are designed to cover a larger area or a row of plants. They typically feature a series of hoops, combined with a plastic, fleece or mesh covering. . Tunnels trap solar heat during the day and thus create a warmer inner environment for plants to grow in. They come in a range of sizes and heights; from low-lying seedling tunnels to taller structures that resemble mini-polytunnels or tents.
Polythene covers function in much the same way as they do on a polytunnel, retaining warmth and humidity while letting sunlight in. This creates a microclimate that can give you a headstart on the growing season. They can be prone to overheating when the weather ‘picks up’, so be ready to remove the cover or ventilate when necessary.
Garden or horticultural fleece - a lightweight, breathable fabric - will provide more insulation and protection against frost and wind, while still allowing water and sunlight to penetrate. Extra-thick heavy duty fleece is also available for enhanced frost protection, protecting down to -5 or -6ºC.
Mesh or netting provides enhanced pest control, protecting against the likes of carrot root fly and cabbage root fly. Extra fine mesh or micromesh can protect against thrips, flea beetles and other smaller insects. This can reduce the need for harmful chemicals or pesticides in the garden. Plants can also be watered through the mesh cover, while the material can let up to 90% of sunlight through. Mesh netting will be somewhat less effective when it comes to insulation; it can however protect against hail and heavy rain.
Cloche cover materials can be bought individually from our site as and when you need them.
A cold frame is an enclosed, transparent structure for placing plants and seedlings in. It resembles a raised bed with a hinged lid. However, the back of a cold frame is usually higher in height, which allows for a sloping lid. In turn this slope enhances the cold frame’s ability to retain heat. A south-facing front should make the most of the sun. Sometimes the lid will be separated into two separate sections, allowing you to lift one for less vulnerable plants.
A cold frame protects seedlings, cuttings and young or tender plants from cold weather while still letting vital light in. It’s a great way of protecting against unpredictable late frosts. One of the most popular uses of a cold frame is to ‘harden off’ seedlings by gradually introducing them to cooler outdoor temperatures. It will be important to prop the lid open - or partly open, on warmer days to avoid overheating.
Cold frames we supply feature polycarbonate or acrylic glazing for extra insulation, with sturdy, durable wooden frames.
A growhouse, as the name might suggest, is a smaller, less permanent equivalent to the greenhouse. Indeed, they are often referred to as ‘mini greenhouses’. They are a compact alternative that can be used for propagation, to harden off seedlings, to protect against frost and of course to offer some pest protection. These temporary structures are easy to put together and suitable for small-space gardening whether it’s on a patio, balcony or allotment.
One variation you will often see is a tomato growhouse. The increased vertical growing room compared to cold frames and cloches allows plants such as tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers to stretch out. Other growhouses have tiered shelving which will suit container growing and seedling or root propagation. We also supply growhouses or ‘planthouses’ that boast reflective foil backings, which enhance light levels by up to 70%.
Grow houses commonly feature a polyethylene cover and a zippable front panel that allows for easy ventilation and access to your plants. The PE cover can also feature eyelets which provide room for bamboo supports.
Pop-Up Fruit Cages
Our pop-up fruit cages are easily assembled, portable structures that provide protection for your fruit plants. Ripening fruit can look like an enticing, easy meal for birds and animals, so a fruit cage can serve as an important physical barrier that will discourage them and send them elsewhere. A quality fine mesh netting can deter birds, insects and wildlife. Despite the name, fruit cages can also be used to protect lettuce crops as well as brassicas (cauliflower, cabbage etc). The portable nature of these pop-up cages allows you to move them around to where they’re needed in the garden, whether it’s protecting early crops and seedlings or covering small shrubs.