Simple cover

Simple cover

Simple cover (1)

Small-scale covers, such as cloches and cold frames, are invaluable for warming the soil to allow seeds to be sown early. They can also be used to harden off plants raised indoors, keep out damaging winds and hungry pests, and protect overwintering crops.

Cloches, whether made of glass, plastic, or row cover, are relatively cheap and have the advantage that they can be moved where needed, although they must be securely pinned to the soil. Use cut-off plastic bottles to cover individual plants, or low, wire-framed tunnels to protect whole rows.

Cold frames usually have a soil base and a sloping, glazed lid. Although lighter frames can be moved where required, many are permanently positioned against south-facing walls, to give maximum light and heat, and extra frost protection. They are ideal for raising early-sown seeds, hardening off young plants, or growing heat-loving crops like cucumbers and melons.

Plastic mini-greenhouses perform many of the same functions as a cold frame. Taller models are ideal for protecting growing bags planted with tomatoes, although they must be anchored securely and have a sheltered, sunny site. Even sunny windowsills are
perfect for raising tender plants from seed. To stop seedlings from bending toward the light, grow them in a simple light box made by cutting the front away from a small cardboard box, and lining the back with reflective silver foil.