Daily gardening tips: Protect young plants from harsh weather with cloches or row covers

Anyone who has spent time nurturing a garden knows how devastating harsh weather conditions can be for delicate, young plants

Daily gardening tips: Protect young plants from harsh weather with cloches or row covers

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Anyone who has spent time nurturing a garden knows how devastating harsh weather conditions can be for delicate, young plants. The good news is that there are ways to help protect your plants from these challenging weather patterns. Two effective methods are using cloches and row covers. In this article, we will explore these techniques and how they can help safeguard your garden.

What are Cloches and Row Covers?

Cloches and row covers are protective devices used in gardening to shield plants from cold temperatures, strong winds, heavy rains, frost, and even pests. They act as mini greenhouses and provide a protective barrier around individual plants or entire rows. Let's take a closer look at each of these methods:


Cloches are essentially transparent covers designed to fit over individual plants, creating a small microclimate that shields the plants from unfavorable weather conditions. Traditionally, cloches were made using glass jars or bell-shaped structures, but today they are available in various materials, including plastic, polyethylene, and even fabric.

Row Covers

Row covers, as the name suggests, are protective covers that span over rows or beds of plants. They are typically made from lightweight and breathable materials, such as spun polypropylene or agricultural fabric. Row covers allow sunlight, air, and water to reach the plants while offering protection from harsh elements.

Why Should You Use Cloches and Row Covers?

Using cloches or row covers in your garden can provide several benefits, including:

  • Protection from Frost: Cloches and row covers act as insulators, preventing frost from settling on the plants. They trap warm air, creating a warmer microclimate inside.
  • Protection from Pests: By covering plants with cloches or row covers, you can keep pests, insects, and animals away from your young and vulnerable plants.
  • Wind and Rain Protection: Harsh winds and heavy rains can damage young plants, make them prone to diseases, or even break their stems. Cloches and row covers provide a shield against these elements, ensuring the plants stay healthy and intact.
  • Temperature Regulation: Cloches and row covers help regulate temperature fluctuations. They trap heat during cold periods, keeping the plants warm, and also provide shade during hot spells, preventing overheating.
  • Extended Growing Seasons: Using these protective covers allows you to start planting earlier in the season and extend your harvest in the fall, giving your plants extra time to mature.

How to Use Cloches and Row Covers Effectively

Now that you understand the advantages of using cloches and row covers, let's explore some tips on how to use them effectively:

Choosing the Right Materials

When selecting cloches or row covers, consider the materials that will work best for your specific needs. While plastic and polyethylene are commonly used and more affordable options, fabric covers provide better breathability and allow for more airflow.

Timing and Installation

Determine the appropriate time to use cloches or row covers based on your climate and the type of plants you are protecting. Generally, it's best to set them up before any severe weather is expected. Make sure the covers are securely positioned, allowing enough space for the plants to grow.

Monitoring and Ventilation

Regularly check your plants under the covers, especially during warmer days, as the temperature inside can rise quickly. When necessary, open the cloches or lift a corner of the row covers to allow excess heat to escape. Proper ventilation is crucial to prevent overheating or fungal diseases.

Watering and Fertilizing

Don't forget that your plants still require water and nutrients even when covered. Ensure proper watering by lifting the cloches or row covers and watering directly around the roots. Periodically remove the covers to fertilize the soil and allow for pollination.

Gradual Removal

As the weather improves, gradually expose your plants to outdoor conditions by opening the cloches or partially removing the row covers. This gradual acclimatization helps prevent shock to the plants and ensures a successful transition.


Using cloches or row covers allows you to mitigate the damaging effects of harsh weather conditions and create an environment conducive to healthy plant growth. With the proper use of these protective covers, you can extend your growing season, protect your plants from pests and frost, and ensure a bountiful harvest. So, invest in cloches and row covers, and provide your young plants with the care and protection they need!

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