Cloche Gardening: Unlocking Year-Round Harvests

Cloche gardening is a smart way to keep your plants cozy and thriving, no matter the weather outside. Imagine giving your plants their very own mini greenhouses. That’s what a cloche does! It’s like a protective bubble that keeps the cold, pests, and too much sun away from your tender plants. Today, we’re diving into the world of cloche gardening, where every gardener gets to play hero, saving their plants from nature’s challenges.


Have you ever wished you could make the growing season a bit longer? Or protect your plants from a sudden frost? Cloche gardening might just be the magic trick you’re looking for. Using cloches – which are like small, clear covers – can help your garden start earlier in the spring and last longer into the fall. They can even keep your plants happy during some of the winter.

Cloches work by trapping warmth and moisture, which are two things plants love. They also keep hungry bugs and harsh weather away from your plants. Think of them as personal bodyguards for your veggies and flowers. This way of gardening is super helpful for gardeners who deal with unpredictable weather or who just want to give their plants a little extra love.

The History of Cloche Gardening

Long ago, gardeners figured out that covering plants could help them grow better. The word “cloche” comes from the French word for bell, which makes sense because the first cloches looked like big glass bells. Gardeners used them to protect their plants from cold snaps and to get a jump-start on the growing season.

Over time, people started making cloches from different materials, like plastic, which is lighter and easier to handle than glass. But no matter what they’re made from, all cloches have the same goal: to create a perfect little environment for plants to thrive in.

Understanding Cloche Gardening

What is a Cloche?

A cloche is like a mini-shelter for plants. It can be made of glass, plastic, or even recycled materials like clear bottles. The idea is to let light in but keep the bad stuff out. This keeps the air and soil around the plants warmer, which can help seeds sprout faster and protect young plants from the cold.

Types of Cloches

Glass Cloches:

These are the traditional kind. They’re heavy and durable but can be pricey and a bit tricky to move around.

Plastic Cloches:

These are lighter and less expensive. They’re great for covering more ground without breaking your back or your wallet.

Homemade Cloches:

Got some old milk jugs or clear bins? You can make your own cloches! It’s a fun project that saves money and recycles at the same time.

How Cloches Work to Protect Plants

Cloches act like a shield, keeping plants safe from cold winds and frost. They also trap heat from the sun, making the air inside warm and cozy. This can help seeds sprout quicker and keep plants growing strong, even when it’s chilly outside. Plus, cloches keep hungry bugs away from your precious plants.

Planning for Cloche Gardening

Before you start placing cloches over your plants willy-nilly, it’s a good idea to have a plan. Look around your garden and think about which plants might need a little extra protection. Seedlings and delicate herbs? Absolutely. Your tough-as-nails kale? Maybe not so much.

Assessing Your Garden’s Needs: Think about the spots in your garden that get too much wind or maybe not enough sun early in the season. These are perfect places for cloche gardening.

Selecting the Right Cloches for Your Plants: If you’re protecting small, individual plants, a simple homemade cloche from a clear plastic bottle might do the trick. For larger areas or rows, bigger plastic cloches or tunnels might be better.

Placement and Spacing Considerations: Make sure your cloches aren’t too close together. Plants need room to breathe and grow. Also, position them so they get plenty of sunlight during the day.

Implementing Cloche Gardening

Now for the fun part: getting your hands dirty and your plants covered!

Preparing the Garden Bed: Before you put down any cloches, make sure your garden bed is ready. This means weeding, adding compost if needed, and making sure the soil is moist.

Installing Cloches:

Step-by-Step Installation Guide: First, gently place the cloche over the plant or area you’re protecting. If it’s windy, you might need to anchor your cloche with stakes or rocks. Make sure there’s a little opening at the top or some vents for air to circulate.

Maintenance and Monitoring: Every day, take a peek under your cloches. You’re looking to make sure the plants aren’t too hot or too wet. Lift the cloche a bit during the warmest part of the day to let fresh air in.

Ventilation and Temperature Control: Remember, the inside of a cloche can get surprisingly warm on a sunny day. This is great for growing, but you don’t want to cook your plants. Opening the cloche a bit can help regulate the temperature.

Watering Under Cloches: Even though cloches trap moisture, you’ll still need to water your plants. Try to water the soil directly, without getting the leaves wet, to prevent disease.

Seasonal Strategies for Cloche Gardening

Cloche gardening isn’t just for spring; it can be a year-round strategy with a little planning.


This is prime time for cloche gardening. Use cloches to protect seedlings from late frosts and give them a warm, moist environment to jump-start their growth.


Believe it or not, cloches can be useful in summer, too, especially for managing pests organically. Just remember to ventilate well to prevent overheating.


As the days get cooler, cloches can help you extend the growing season. Late crops of greens or herbs can keep going weeks longer under the protection of a cloche.


With the right kind of cloche and winter-hardy plants, you can even grow some greens in the coldest months. It’s all about choosing the right plants and keeping an eye on the temperature.

Troubleshooting Common Cloche Gardening Issues

Even with the best planning, you might run into some issues. Here’s how to tackle them:

Managing Condensation and Mold:

If you see too much moisture inside your cloche, increase ventilation to keep air moving. This will help keep mold at bay.

Dealing with High Temperatures:

On very sunny days, be proactive about opening your cloches to prevent overheating. An early morning check can help you decide if it’s a day for extra ventilation.

Preventing Wind Damage:

Make sure your cloches are securely anchored. Heavy stones or stakes can keep them from blowing away in strong winds.

By following these steps and being mindful of the needs of your plants and the conditions in your garden, you can make cloche gardening a successful and rewarding part of your gardening routine. Remember, the key is to observe and adjust as you go. Happy gardening!

As we wrap up our journey through the world of cloche gardening, let’s take a moment to reflect on the creative and sustainable practices that can make our gardens both beautiful and bountiful, all year round.

Creative Uses of Cloches Beyond Protection

Cloches aren’t just for keeping plants warm; they’re also a canvas for your creativity.

Creating Microclimates:

Use cloches to create little environments that are just right for plants that might not otherwise thrive in your area. Want to grow a herb that loves humidity in a dry climate? A cloche can make that possible.

Aesthetic Enhancements in the Garden:

Beyond their practicality, cloches can add a touch of elegance or whimsy to your garden. A row of uniform glass cloches can look quite sophisticated, while a collection of upcycled plastic bottle cloches adds a quirky charm.

Sustainability and Cloche Gardening

Incorporating cloches into your gardening is not just good for your plants; it’s a step towards more sustainable living.

Reusing and Recycling Materials:

Before you buy new, see what you can repurpose as a cloche. Old windows, water jugs, and even broken glass jars can find new life protecting your plants.

Impact on Local Ecosystems:

By using cloches to extend the growing season naturally, you’re reducing the need for artificial heating or chemical pest controls. This gentle approach helps keep your garden and the surrounding ecosystem healthier.


Cloche gardening is a fantastic way to extend your growing season, protect your plants from the elements, and even battle pests naturally. It’s a technique that blends the old with the new, allowing gardeners to experiment and innovate with materials, designs, and gardening strategies. Whether you’re a seasoned green thumb or just starting out, incorporating cloches into your garden offers a world of benefits. They can protect your tender seedlings from the cold, help your summer salads survive a heatwave, and even keep your greens growing into the winter months.

Remember, the key to successful cloche gardening is observation and adaptation. Keep an eye on your plant pals, adjust their environment as needed, and don’t be afraid to get creative with the materials you use. By following the tips and strategies we’ve discussed, you’ll be well on your way to a productive, beautiful, and sustainable garden. So, grab a cloche (or make your own) and give your plants a cozy, protective hug. Happy gardening!

By embracing the principles of cloche gardening, you’re not just growing plants; you’re nurturing a healthier planet, one garden at a time. Let’s put those cloches to work and watch our gardens thrive in every season!

FAQs on Cloche Gardening

1. What is cloche gardening and why should I use it?

Cloche gardening involves using a cover or dome (known as a cloche) over plants to protect them from cold, pests, and extreme weather conditions. It’s beneficial because it extends the growing season, helps with germination, and can protect young plants during vulnerable stages of growth.

2. Can I make my own cloches, and what materials are best for this?

Yes! Homemade cloches can be made from various recycled materials, such as clear plastic bottles, glass jars, or even old windows. The best material depends on what you have available and the size of the plant you’re protecting. Just ensure the material is clear to allow sunlight in and has some way to ventilate to prevent overheating.

3. How do I ventilate my cloches to prevent overheating and mold?

Ventilation can be managed by lifting or tilting the cloche during the warmest part of the day to allow excess heat and moisture to escape. For DIY cloches, drilling small holes near the top can also provide ongoing ventilation without having to manually adjust them daily.

4. When is the best time to use cloches in my garden?

Cloches are versatile and can be used throughout the year. In spring, they help with early plant growth and frost protection. During summer, they can protect plants from intense sun and pests. In autumn, they extend the growing season for many crops, and in winter, they can protect hardy plants and even enable some cold-resistant varieties to grow.

5. How long should I keep my plants under a cloche?

The duration depends on the reason for using the cloche. For seed germination, keep the cloche on until the seedlings are strong enough to withstand the outside environment, typically a few weeks. For frost protection, use it only during the cold nights. Always monitor the weather and plant growth, adjusting cloche use accordingly to avoid overheating or excessive moisture.


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Jim Gomes

I have been fascinated with gardening and growing plants of all types. My parents and grandparents had green thumbs and grew all types of flowers, fruits and vegetables. I have always followed the "old ways" practiced by them and to the maximum extent possible have tried to avoid the use of chemicals in my garden. I hope to be able to help others to do the same.

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