If you are growing a tall crop, such as tomatoes or beans, you can cover them for a longer period than usual by the following method, which will add 15 cm (6”) to the internal height of a tall barn cloche. Dig a shallow trench along the strip, 7.5 cm (3”) deep, which will contain the plants, and place a row of bricks along the edge of the trench to support the sides of the cloche, thus adding another 7.5 cm (3”) to the height.
Occasionally, due to the nature of the site or season, it is necessary to protect tall plants such as tomatoes, after de-cloching them. Individual plants can be given protection by placing and securing two up-ended cloches on each side. Two or four canes strategically pushed into the ground will provide the support needed to prevent the cloches from being blown over.
Although there is very rarely a time when cloches cannot be used to good effect, it is sometimes necessary to stack them temporarily. It is probably true to say that more cloches are damaged or broken when not in use than during cropping. The reasons for this are usually either incorrect stacking on uneven ground or people stumbling onto cloches which are left around or smothered in .. Always stack cloches on level land, cleared of weeds, and use sticks or canes to keep them in place. A layer of straw 5 cm (2”) thick laid down underneath stacked glass or rigid cloches will stop weeds from growing up through the cloches and prevent stones from causing damage.
Shading and cleaning
These are both important considerations. Cloches made of glass, or of any other transparent material, may need to be shaded for some crops, such asand . Proprietary materials to paint on as shading are usually more effective than the lime wash that was traditionally used. In winter every bit of light is needed, so cloches must be clean regardless of the type of material. Warm water, detergent and a soft brush are necessary to loosen dirt and staining, which can then be washed off with a jet of water from a hose. Prevention is better than cure, and if you stop weeds from touching the glass or plastic and keep both free of mud and , much algal growth and staining will be avoided.
The polythene sheet used for tunnels tends to get dirty very easily, and needs a good scrub to clean it. Hanging it on a line afterwards until it is dry will ensure that algae and slugs do not infest it when it is packed away and out of use.
Whenever you use glass cloches, do so as carefully as possible to avoid the risk of accidents. You should take particular care never to take’one or two cloches off a row and leave them to one side or other: if you do, it is very likely that you will forget that they are there, step backwards and fall onto the glass, maybe injuring yourself badly. If you feel nervous about handling glass, or young children use the garden, buy or make plastic cloches instead.