Wednesday, 27 February 2008

The fastest seedling in the west and some cloche questions...

Wow, I'm impressed, it's only been three days and already we have a little seedling poking its head through the soil. One of the red cabbage's we planted on Sunday afternoon seems to have decided to get a head start as it was stood there waiting to say hello when we got home from work today. The only thing I can think that may have caused this unexpectedly fast germination is the fact that the seed tray full of soil had been sat in the propagator for a week before we planted in it, so I guess the soil would have been nice and warm to get things started. Still, whatever the reason I'm impressed. Well done Mr Cabbage!

Changing the subject somewhat, can anyone out there answer a couple of questions for me? It's about those mini cloche tunnels that are appearing in all the gardening shops at the moment, you see I'm a little confused. They seem come in two main types, there's open ended ones and ones with a draw string to close the ends off. Now, I don't see how the ones with open ends can be much use at all, surely they can't retain much warmth and any critters wanting to munch on your crops can simple walk on in with ease. So that would point towards the ones with draw string ends being the better ones surely? The only problem is that I'd imagine the crops in either of those kinds need regular watering since the poly material doesn't allow water through it. The solution to that would surely be the fleece covered tunnels as that lets moisture through (doesn’t it?) but I'd imagine also doesn't do as good a job of keeping the temperature up... So, there seems to me to be no ideal mini cloche tunnel thing, or am I missing something? What do you all use and why?

On the same subject, I've seen various poly and fleece mini tunnels for sale that all have metal hoops that you feed through slots in the fabric to create the tunnel effect. Now, we've got a load of metal hoops that were left on the plot by a previous owner and we bought a load of fleece at the weekend. My question is would my plan of simply laying the fleece over the hoops and securing to the ground with something (bricks? pegs? ummmmm... ideas?) work ok or do the more experienced amongst you see a fatal flaw in that plan?

Next bed to be dug is the root veg one as we want to get some early carrots in it under some form of cover hence the sudden interest in all things cloche related.


VP said...

Could you put a wire hoop under the fleece and then the fleece and then another wire on the top to hold it in place? And then repeat along the length of the fleece?

I think the open ended ones you put your own draw string equivalent in place - the old boys up our allotment use a bit of twig and twine.

Correct on the watering comment. Don't know about the differences in temperature between fleece and polythene. My concern has also been that the polythene might have a better chance of disease build up because of the lack of ventilation.

All these questions (and the cost) has always made me dither about buying any of these things too - so sorry can't be much more help on this one.

Anonymous said...


The open ended clothes usually get small squares of glass (or equivalent) leant up against them and then a twig or 2 pushed into the ground to secure them.

Drawstring fleece polytunnels are ok as they let the rain in and you can lift them easily if you want to check on your crops, which is my preference.

If you are going to use your own metal hoops and loose fleece; put your hoops into the ground securely. Place your fleece over the top. Gather each end in your hand and put a bent piece of wire over it or a tent peg if you have one. Do the same at the other end, then make a drill along the edge and tuck the fleece in and cover with soil. Do the same on the other side and it will hold.

I hope this helps, but if you need piccies, leave a message on my blog and I will see what I can do.

Anonymous said...

DIY is definately the way to go! I use build a ball balls with canes attached. I've bought some enviromesh to go over the top which will be weighed down with slate. By the way, did u see the comment i wrote on my blog about tomorrow?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for kind words. The tunnel issue is a thorny one. You're right; there is no ideal cloche or tunnel... for all the reasons you outline. Plastic ones are great in cold weather, but the moment the sun comes out you MUST open the ends or everything inside fries. And fleece isn't ideal, either; it's not as water permeable as it looks, and it's not all that warm either. So not much of one and even less of the other.

I tend to go with fleece, because the consequences of neglecting it for a few days aren't as serious as they can be with plastic (wilted, overheated plants). But it's all very unsatisfactory. I think the best solution is a polytunnel, but I can't afford one!!

sexy said...