advice on winter cloche materials?

I'm thinking of making a largish cloche for my school gardening club so we can try and grow some winter veg and bring things on a bit faster (kids get very impatient and it's good to be able to see things grow). I've got some frame bits left over from an old linkabord kit I bought years ago, but my question is what to cover it with. Because I'm only there once a week, it needs to be pretty wind-proof, and we get very strong winds (we're on the south coast). I think ordinary plastic would get swept away - but would something permeable work? Is there something that would let the light in but protect the crops? Nothing expensive! Thank you very much!

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  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 17,505

    If it's porous enough to let air thru than be wind resistant it's going to let in all the cold air that will stunt or kill growth.

    Plastic bottles with their bottoms removed work well for individual plants then cold frames or tunnel cloches for groups or rows.   If you can peg the frames down deeply enough they should withstand quite a bit of wind.   Have a look around here for some ideas - http://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/outdoors/gardening/cloches-and-cold-frames

    Also, look on Youtube for Geoff Hamilton making cloches and cold frames.  He was a whizz at sturdy stuff made for little expense.

    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Well in the past I have bought heavy duty polythene from poly tunnel companies and tacked it on tightly to the frame. If you place some tape over the polythene where you are going to tack it in then this will help stop it splitting.

    The key I think is making sure it it fitted tightly to the frame so it doesn't flap about.

  • Kitty 2Kitty 2 ManchesterPosts: 5,090

    Do you mean a tunnel cloche, to be placed directly over the ground, or something like a cold frame with a hinged lid?

    I was thinking of clear corrugated roofing sheets for a tunnel cloche. Tougher than plastic sheeting and much cheaper than polyarbonate sheets.

    Had to google linkaboard  image and it seems to be a modular system for creating raised beds.  If you could find some heavy duty plastic sheeting to fix to the frame, would some bricks around the outside edge hold it firm in strong winds? Maybe have an upturned plant pot in the centre, to raise the plastic a bit (like a tent) for water run off.

  • Bee witchedBee witched Scottish BordersPosts: 456

    Hi mjd2000,

    I've used old 'fridge drawers with a brick on top for individual plants. I've also covered cloches with old net curtain stapled to the frame. Seems to create a little microclimate to help bring things on  .... but also a cosy home for slugs!! Easy enough to unstaple and wash if needed.

    Bee 

    image

      image  Bees must gather nectar from two million flowers to make one pound of honey 
  • Hmm - thank you! I'll certainly look at the links - thanks. The linkabord cloche kit is just a sort of frame that you can fit over the raised bed.

  • Also on SE 10 minutes from sea, problems with wind.  Could be solved by making a cold frame, from old wood, polycarbonate top.  Hubby made ours from gravel boards, and our old bathroom window.  if you can succesfully shelter it from the wind, and peg it down, you can make a cloche from the blue water pipe bent into semi-circles pushed into the ground covered with fleece, cheap as chips on e-bay.

  • Thanks Nanny Beach! I can't really make a cold frame unfortunately, as it's for a school club so has to be reasonably safe and I don't have the skills. I had wondered about using fleece - especially as I've already got a roll of it and could replace it easily if it got damaged.

  • You could certainly use the fleece, doubled if it isn't the best quality. Weigh down with stones/timber or WHY and ensure you have cut the fleece sufficiently large to allow you to raise it as the plants grow taller. 

    It's not really the best method but if you have the fleece and no skills, it may well do as a "one off" so to speakimage 

  • Are you going to make a raised bed with the linkaord kit? You say you are going to be "there" once a wek, is someone going to be checking on the plants, watering if neccessary? How old are the children concerned?

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