Creating a sterile seedbed is a method where you encourage germination of weeds by covering your growing area with AcryliCloche® garden cloches. Remove the weeds once they have germinated and then sow your crops. Read more on using garden cloches to create a sterile seed bed.
Pre-warming the soil with a garden cloche before sowing encourages earlier germination and increases the length of the cropping season. Seeds germinate at various temperatures but as a guide germination of hardy crops such as carrots start when the average soil temperature is above 8°C (46°F) and for tender crops such as French Beans 12°C (54°F)
AcryliCloche® garden cloches will raise the temperature of the soil thus increasing the average daily temperature. In addition dry soil warms quicker than wet soil and your cloche will keep rain and snow off your planting site. An added bonus is the faster germination of weeds under the cloche. Known as a 'sterile seed bed' the weed seeds germinate as the soil warms, these can be removed before the vegetable crop is sown and will mean there are a few less weeds to worry about later in the year.
PoshCloche have carried out temperature trials which show how quickly soil warms under AcryliCloche® Garden Cloche. Details of the trial results can be found by clicking here.
Your garden cloche will create a protected micro environment for your seedlings and plants in yor garden or raised bed providing them with shelter from the worse of the weather. Frost is the obvious danger for those early plantings but heavy rain and high winds can also create havoc. Later in the season cloches can be used to protect the established crop from unexpected early frosts so it has the chance to grow fully before harvesting. Winter hardy crops such as spinach carried overwinter under cloches are less mud splashed and more tender as a result of their cosseted life. Some gardeners struggle to get even the winter hardy crops to survive their local climates and growing under cloches makes this possible.
Cloches help the vegetable grower to attain a longer growing season (extending) and to influence the cropping times (forwarding) of their vegetables. It is a small distinction but an important one.
Forwarding crops under cloches mean the vegetable grower tries to 'hurry up' the crop so it reaches maturity or fruiting time earlier than it otherwise would. A good example is the strawberry plant which is fully hardy and does not need cloche protection in order for it to survive the winter. However a cloche placed over strawberry plants from February onwards will encourage earlier root growth, promote flowering and ripen fruit sooner than the uncloched plants. A row of beetroot all sown at the same time can be encouraged to mature earlier if part of the row is covered by a cloche and the rest left to its natural growing rates. Plants under cloches will mature quicker than the uncloched plants which will stagger your harvesting time avoiding a glut.
Extending the growing season by sowing or planting vegetables under cloche makes earlier germination and growth possible due to a warmer and more protected environment than they would otherwise get planted in the open. A lovely warm environment under cloche tricks the seeds into thinking the growing season is more advanced that it really is by raising the average soil temperature. This works at the other end of the growing season as well and benefits late grown plants in exactly the same way. Vegetables such as sweetcorn require a longer growing season than some local climates are able to provide. Starting your sowings off under a cloche will extend that season and make the crop possible to grow.
Your AcryliCloche® garden cloche provides the first line of defense against threats to precious seedlings and early sowings with the main early season culprits being weather, slugs, rodents, pigeons and rabbits.
Pigeons and rodents are the main problem when planting seeds from the Fabaceae family of plants such as peas and broad beans. Before they get a chance to germinate most seeds are dug up and eaten and need to be protected under cloches to prevent this. Onion sets are a particular attraction to pigeons which seem to make a national sport of pulling them up. A garden cloche provides a physical barrier which will give them time to germinate and establish before the next wave of attack from slugs and rabbits which thrive on emerging seedlings.
There are many products on the market to tackle slug damage and by creating a protected environment for seedlings under your garden cloche you can use well established methods of slug control to greater effect. Bran, organic pellets, copper wires and beer traps are just some of the measures taken against slugs and all are more effective and longer lasting if they are protected from erosion by wind and rain. A cloche creates a protective environment around the seedlings and slug control methods can be concentrated where they are needed most.
Hardening off involves carefully acclimatising plants raised in greenhouses or windowsills to cooler temperatures under cloches and increased air movement otherwise the shock of planting out in the open will be to great. Plants usually require between two to six weeks to harden off before they can be planted in their final growing position. Place your plants under a AcryliCloche® Garden Cloche with the end pieces in place and gradually reduce the time the end pieces are off during the day. On mild days gradually increase the time the cloche is off replacing it only at night. Eventually the cloche can come off though half-hardy and frost tender plants must be protected until the danger of frost has passed.
Cloches can be covered to blanch crops such as endives in order to remove the bitterness. Similarly you can created a dappled shade effect by splattering your AcryliCloche® with mud or calamine lotion on the underside so it does not get washed of in the rain.
Cloches are ideal for successional sowing. Sow a row of seeds and cover then as soon as they have germinated extend the row with another sowing and move your cloche along. Successional sowing is ideal to avoid a glut of crops.
Use your AcryliCloche® to create a nursery bed in which to raise seedlings and plants before they are transplanted into their final growing positions. Perfect also for overwintering small plants ready to plant out the following spring.
Potatoes, carrots and beetroot to name a few are all root crops which need to have their skins set and hardened after harvesting to ensure they have a good chance of surviving storage. Once the crop has been dug leave them to harden off under open ended AcryliCloche® to set the skins.