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DIY Garden Clothes: Protect Young Plants from Early Morning Frost Featured

Check out these ways to protect your plants from the elements. Check out these ways to protect your plants from the elements.


Cold weather, particularly frost, causes the water in plant cells to freeze, damaging cell walls. Frost-damaged plants are easy to spot: Their growth becomes limp, blackened and distorted. Frost problems are often made worse where plants face the morning sun, as this causes them to defrost quickly, rupturing their cell walls. This problem can easily be diverted if you use mulch and cloches to protect your plants.

Mulch insulates plant roots and helps the soil retain moisture. A thick coating of mulch, such as straw mulch, around strawberry plants provides them with the necessary warmth to prevent freezing. Other plants benefit from wood bark or wood chip mulch.
Garden cloches are usually bell-shaped pieces of glass, sometimes called bell jars, used to protect seedlings and young plants from cold temperatures and spring snowfalls. The solid, bottomless pieces of glass are placed over tender plants and seedlings, usually overnight when the temperatures dip. If you have a lot of plants that need protection from the cold, using cloches can get pretty expensive. Luckily, adapting 2-liter plastic soda bottles or glass wine bottles is a great way to get the benefits of a cloche without the high price.

Plastic Method

The plastic used in 2-liter soda bottles is relatively flimsy and can blow away if not anchored securely to the ground. When the bottom is cut off, a bottle’s walls can easily collapse. I’ll show you how to make your cloches rigid by forming a reinforcing ring around the bottom edge. When you place the cloches over young plants in the garden, keep the bottle caps off during the day. This will prevent heat from building up and damaging the plants. In the evening, replace the caps to trap heat and keep the plants warm and comfortable. Here’s how to make the reinforcing ring on your soda bottle cloches in three easy steps.

STEP 1 Gather several 2-liter bottles. Remove the bottoms just above the “feet” of the bottle. Using a sharp knife (a utility knife works great), cut through the plastic on a cutting board. Trim any jagged edges. The smoother and more even the cut edge, the better the reinforcing ring you can form.

STEP 2 Warm a nonstick skillet over low heat. With the cap removed to allow heat to escape, press the cut edge of the bottle gently onto the skillet. Apply a light downward pressure while keeping the bottle upright and slowly soften the plastic evenly. Let the edge curl inward 1/8 to 1/4 inch. You may have to try this a few times before you get it to come out perfectly.

STEP 3 Quickly remove the bottle from the skillet and place it over the bottom of an inverted 2-cup glass measuring cup. The tapered sides of this cup let the softened bottle nestle down firmly and form a perfect ring as the plastic cools. This cooling and hardening process is very rapid, so have the measuring cup close by. Keep the bottle turning as the plastic is hardening to prevent sticking. Wrap solder wire around the neck of the bottle and drape the wire down the sides of the bottle, leaving a few inches past the bottom to place into the ground. Your DIY cloche is now ready to protect your favorite plant.

Glass Method

If you would like a more professional look to your cloche, you can use a glass wine bottle. To create your glass cloche using a wine bottle, you will need a few tools, one of which is an inexpensive glass cutter. You will also need a candle, a bucket of ice-cold water and sandpaper. And you’ll need some sort of support to hold the bottle steady when making the cut; your thighs will work great for this.

STEP 1 Place the bottle in the support that will allow it to be turned as well as stand vertically without tipping. Slowly make a cut around the bottle with the glass cutter. Remember that the cutter is not supposed to go all the way through the bottle; you are simply starting the cut, so be careful not to apply too much pressure.

STEP 2 Hold the candle close to the bottle and move it slowly around the perimeter of the cut four or five times. Try to keep the flame far enough away so you don’t blacken the glass. Once you’ve done this, proceed immediately to Step 3.

STEP 3 Submerge the bottle in a bucket of very cold ice water. Allow it to rest there for a few moments, and the glass should separate at the cut line. If it does not separate, tap it very lightly to help it along.

STEP 4 Your last step is to sand the cut glass edge with wet sandpaper. You are now ready to use your very own DIY glass cloche to protect the plants that matter to you the most. With a little time and effort, you can create a beautiful glass cloche garden, without great expense to you.

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Have this Englishman teach you a thing or two about cloches.
Last modified on Monday, 13 August 2012 15:58

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