Garden Cloches are a great way to protect individual plants. Cloches are structures made to protect your plants from many different problems including birds, small animals, rain, wind, and the cold. Cloches can be made by yourself or purchased. Because of their size, cloches are ideal for protecting new and young plants. If you have ever grown tomatoes in an area with cool spring temperatures you are probably familiar with wall o water protectors. These work by insulating your young plant with water. The same principles are used with a cloche structure by stabilizing the air and ground temperatures.
Cold Frames are a great structure if you utilize raised beds or containers. A cold frame is made by creating a raised bed with an enclosed top that can be opened. Usually shutters, windows, or a plastic covering are used for the lid. When it is built there will be one side that is higher than the other to create a slant. This will help rain or melted snow to drain off. Cold frames are ideal for areas with cold spring temperatures and early fall frosts. Different building materials will help you to personalize your cold frame for your local climate.
The best benefit of using a cold frame is that the lid can be opened. This means there is nothing impeding your regular growing season. At this point your cold frame acts just like a raised bed. During the months that your garden is susceptible to cold damage you just need to keep the lid closed with the exception of warm days when it is good to allow for some ventilation. Because your crops aren’t continually in the open you are also less likely to sustain damage from visiting pests and animals.
Row Covers are best used for ground level gardens, although they can be used to cover raised garden beds as well. A row cover is made by attaching a plastic layer to a support structure. Hoops are the most used as they allow for enough growth and work space. The same hoop structure can also be used to provide shade amid hot summer days. Because plants like to remain above freezing and below 86 °F, row covers are one of the best protective methods. They are also among the most cost effective and assembly-friendly options.