Cloches And Handlights

Types: There are bell glasses, which are made entirely of glass and are shaped like a bell; handlights of varying pattern, but usually rectangular with span or pyramidal top glazed with glass or glass substitute, and continuous cloches which are open ended, and so may be placed end to end to cover a row of any length. These continuous cloches are the most useful for rearing seedlings and growing crops. Bell glasses and handlights are superior for striking summer cuttings, as the atmosphere within them is closer.

Continuous cloches can be made of sheets of glass held together by special wire frames or clamps. They can be dismantled easily and stored flat when not required. Breakages are easily made good. These cloches can be had in several forms, the two most important being the tent, made of two panes of glass set together like an inverted V, and the barn, made of four pieces set together like the end view of a barn. Plastic cloches of many different patterns are also available and yet another method is to stretch lengths of polythene film over wire supports to make long, tunnel-like protectors held in place by wooden pegs.

Ventilation. Bell glasses and handlights are ventilated by tilting them on a block of wood. Continuous cloches may be ventilated in two ways according to the weather and needs of plants: by leaving the ends of the row of cloches open, or by spacing the cloches out a little. In this way a great range of ventilation can be obtained. There are also special designs of cloches in which provision is made to open the sides or tops for ventilation.

Watering. Seeds and plants in cloches or handlights must not be allowed to get dry, but as a rule they do not require watering as freely as those in frames because water runs down the glass and then soaks in from the surrounding soil. Cloches may be placed fairly close together over ground in late winter and early spring, to enable the surface to dry off and so make seed sowing possible.

Plants to Grow in Cloches. In spring they are servicetable for early seedlings of flowering plants and vegetables and for early crops of salad vegetables, tomatoes, and strawberries. In summer they are used for cuttings of all kinds; in autumn for more cuttings, seedlings of hardy annuals, broad beans, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower, for ripening tomatoes and also crops of lettuce, endive, parsley, and radish. In winter cloches are useful as protection for small plants of doubtful hardiness such as some alpines and bulbs, also on the seedling crops already raised under them’ in the autumn.

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