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Protecting Young Plants From Cold Weather

"Phillis Heathershaw" (2019-07-27)

Young plants usually require protection from the cold, wind and pests until they become established. Slugs can finish-off a row of seedlings in a couple of hours, whilst a strong wind can snap the slender stems of new plants. It is therefore a good idea to offer some form of shelter to give them a head start. At Garden4less, we stock a range of items to protect your plants including horticultural fleece and mini grow houses. Our guide to protection will help you achieve healthy edible and ornamental plants that are free from frost-damage.

CDm05hpWYAA7hEn.jpg%5CA hard frost can freeze the water inside plants' cells, literally bursting them apart. Depending on their hardiness, established specimens may recover from the damage, but young plants can be completely destroyed. A late spring frost can prove a huge setback for the gardener, although the risks are reduced by using protection.

Inside a greenhouse, you should always use greenhouse heaters to keep seedlings warm, even for hardy plants as they can be vulnerable while young.

A mini greenhouse makes a convenient and easy way to protect young plants. Our version will hold a surprising number of pots and comes complete with both a summer and winter cover. This is the perfect environment for raising seedlings, particularly if you lack the space or the budget for a full-sized greenhouse.

If you need to protect a row of newly-planted vegetables why not make your own, DIY tunnel cloche? All that is required is a basic framework of hoops (use old coat hangers or lengths of 22mm water pipe) onto which you can hang insulating fleece or clear polythene sheeting. The sides can then be secured to the ground using old tent pegs or heavy stones. For weeding and maintenance, simply lift the side of the tunnel cloche and replace once the job is done. Both the mini greenhouse and cloche method work by creating a warm, sheltered area for vegetable seedlings. The covered environment acts as a mini-greenhouse, absorbing heat and offering protection from the elements. They also create a physical barrier against slugs, snails and parasitic insects. One thing you may need to consider is that the ground underneath your chosen covering may dry out, even in very wet weather. Keep an eye on this, and water your plants as necessary. If you do not have time to check this you can use an automatic hozelock watering system like the Maxi 20 - 2755 To keep your plants well fed.

Wrap up warm

If you are struck by a cold snap, horticultural fleece is an easy way to protect your new plants. Simply lay over rows of seedlings and weigh down with a brick at both ends. Fleece can also be laid over an existing cloche for extra insulation during a cold night. Our horticultural fleece is available in a wide range of lengths and can be cut to size to meet the individual requirements of your plot. Our pop-up fleece cover is also useful for protecting individual plants, such as young fruit trees and folds away to save space when not in use.

DIY cloches

Once they have reached maturity, your plants will need to be removed from the confines of the grow house and transplanted into open ground. An inexpensive method of protecting single plants is to make your own individual cloches. Whilst they may not be particularly attractive they cost nothing to construct, and will only be required for a short space of time. Use an old plastic drinks bottle with the bottom cut off, and simply place over your chosen plant. If sowing during hot weather, be sure to leave the cap off to prevent overheating. By virtue of their reduced proportions, water will easily seep into the protected area from the surrounding soil, so watering should not be required. The only drawback is that they don't stay effective for long. As soon as the leaves start to press on the plastic you should take the cloche away, trading up in size if protection is still required. If you don't, the chances of fungal leaf diseases are greatly increased.
Althea, Wellington Park,
Wellington Road,
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