Protective Devices

You can easily protect vegetables from the weather by placing a cover over individual plants, a section of the garden, or an entire Vegetable Factory bed. These devices make it possible to raise the garden temperature 5 to 15° F or more. This allows you to start crops earlier and to extend the season for such warm-season crops such as tomatoes and eggplant by two to four weeks.

A cloche is any covering that admits the sunlight to warm a bed. In a Vegetable Factory garden this might mean anything from a Dixie cup turned upside down over a single plant to a bed-wide greenhouse.

When the sun's rays pass through the glazed surface, they are stored in the soil as energy. This heat energy has a longer wavelength than light energy and will not pass back out through the glazing. The trapped heat raises the temperature of the soil and air under the cover. As a result, even simple cloches made from household materials will extend the growing season by at least a few weeks.

Hot caps and hot tents are the simplest devices to use in a Vegetable Factory bed. They are slightly translucent, and let in enough light to support plant growth. You can buy hot caps and hot tents at garden centers or nurseries or from seed catalogs. Or you can make your own by cutting the bottoms off plastic jugs, and by turning plastic containers (such as cake covers) over individual vegetables.

Soft plastics (most commonly polyethylene) are lightweight and inexpensive, and are useful for covering a variety of cloches you intend to move around the garden. A drawback is that they don't last as long as rigid plastics. Here are some ideas for making soft plastic cloches:-

  • Stretch polyethylene coathanger wickets to make a plastic tent Hold down the plastic with rocks.
  • Cover a hinged A frame with polyethylene. It can be easily moved about the garden and folded for storage when not in use.
Plan Vegetation Drawings
Figure 6.05

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