Glass in Your Vegetable Garden Using Cloches and Glass Greenhouses in a Cold Climate
The first time I saw a glass greenhouse in a mountain area, where the weather was very harsh, and still vegetables were being grown under such inclement conditions, I began to wonder – how many of us can really afford a glass greenhouse, especially when the materials are so expensive.
That is why I am writing this book to tell you about how you can use cloches and glass in your vegetable garden, and get plenty of fresh vegetables all the year round, even when it is -10° outside.
Glass covers to force vegetables and fruit much before their normal, natural seasonal harvest time, as well as protection have been in long usage for centuries.
It has been noticed that tomatoes are one of the best of all indoor crops for even a newbie gardener and if you are growing them under glass, they are going to be of a higher quality than those grown outdoors. Also, the harvest is going to be earlier than the one which you are going to expect from your outdoor crop.
Remember that when you are making a glass house, you are giving your plants an opportunity to grow in a temperature which, though artificially controlled is making an atmosphere as if they are growing outside, in one particular season.
Glasshouses, Greenhouses and Hot Houses
For all those people who want to know the difference between a Glasshouse and a greenhouse, well, both of them are synonyms for each other depending on the part of the world in which you find yourself. In Europe it is called a greenhouse and in America, it is going to be called a Glasshouse.
Normally, the structure is used to provide a proper growing medium and environment for plants in the winter. In the 18th and 19th century as glass was the only medium available to construct these buildings, they were called glasshouses. But today, they are made of fiberglass, polycarbonate, and polyethylene, or any transparent and study material through which light can pass, but the plant is protected from direct sun or from the cold.
Apart from glasshouses and greenhouses, you may find somebody calling these shelters slat houses. These are when they are covered with cloth or you may covered them with wooden slats. They provide the plants with shade. On the other hand, these did not quite keep out the rain and the cold.
The stately homes of Europe had their own conservatories which were just greenhouses attached to a portion of the home, being a part of the garden which was used for growing exotic botanical specimens.
Greenhouses and glasshouses are also called hot houses. That means the greenhouses are being heated during the winter, so that the crops can be extended. “cold frame” is the name given to a small greenhouse.
Cloches and the Greenhouse Effect
A cloche is a bell shaped glass, which is normally placed over a growing seedling not only to protect it, but also to force a plant into usefulness long before their natural season and time. French gardeners began to use the cloches extensively in the 17th century, and afterwards, and it was only in the 1920s and 1930s that more gardeners began to understand the value of getting out of season fruit and vegetables grown in the winter season. With the help of cloches, we have a mini greenhouse effect working on the plant. This is done by tapping the sun heat. It is going to save the plant from being injured by the cold wind. It is also going to shield it from Frost.
Most important of all, it is going to avoid a continuous wetness of foliage in the winter. This, along with cold wind does much more harm than straightforward cold-weather.
So, you may ask, how come the greenhouse effect is not obtained in the real greenhouse – the structure which you made for all your plants, with a glass and plastic roof and sides. The answer is that the visible sunshine coming in is going to heat up the house. This is absorbed in the greenhouse structure.
The air which has been warmed by the heat from the interior surfaces is going to be retained by the wall and the roof of the building. The roof and the wall prevent the air which has been warmed nearer to the soil and to the ground from flowing away after rising.
This is not the real greenhouse effect mechanism. The original natural greenhouse effect means that the rays from the sun are trapped by the contents of the atmosphere surrounding the earth. These include methane, water vapor and carbon dioxide.
The sunlight passes through the atmosphere and some of it is reflected back when it hits the surface of the earth. However, the heat, which is radiated back, is retained, and that is why the earth warms up.
Cloches are more effective because the sunlight has passed through glass in a limited space. They have allowed the heat to warm up the soil and the sides of the glass. This raised temperature is going to cause the water vapor obtained from the moist soil to settle on the sides of the glass. This water vapor is going to slowly trickle down and settle on the leaves or get absorbed again in the soil.
So you are going to be surprised to see how less water you need, when you are growing plants under cloches. Also, the flavor is richer and more improved. Also, any cloches put on plans are going to allow the crops normally sown late to be sown much earlier that means you are going to get a crop far ahead of its usual time.Until you have put these cloches to the test, there is absolutely no way in which you can convince yourself that these are excellent protective little greenhouses.
Watering under Cloches
Like I told you, a cloche is a mini greenhouse. So once the soil is wet, believe it or not, you will need to water them very seldom, especially in winter, autumn and early spring. That is because they are going to get quite a lot of moisture, as the water runs to the base of glass and soaks the ground well under it.
Cloches And Glass Page 15
Watering under Cloches
Like I told you, a cloche is a mini greenhouse. So once the soil is wet, believe it or not, you will need to water them very seldom, especially in winter, autumn and early spring. That is because they are going to get quite a lot of moisture, as the water runs to the base of glass and soaks the ground well under it. I have watered the soil, placed the cloches on the seedlings, put them in the winter sun, but away from the winter wind, and I forget about watering them! Tomorrow or day after tomorrow, I am going to check the progress of my seedlings. I am going to see water droplets on the side of the cloche covering. I am satisfied now; the greenhouse effect has started.
So that settles the question of water, you may say, but what about air. Well, some of the larger cloches have sliding tops which are going to allow air to be given freely. However, if you have a long and continuous row of a normal tent cloche, there is going to be enough air finding its way to the plants to avoid any sort of trouble or worry about air circulation. Also, if you are worried on this score, all you have to do is pick up the cloche, say hello to your plants, and appreciate their growth and replace the cloche again!
This book has introduced you to how you can grow some popular vegetables, even in the winter, under cloches or in a glass greenhouse. Naturally, you can grow each and every vegetable available in your area under cloches and there are just a few examples given in this book.
Generally speaking, cloches are important features of a vegetable garden. Not only do they help in the growing and protection of crops, but also, they are good means of raising all kinds of seeking for transplanting later.
This raising is going to be done at the season when without such protection, it would previously have been impossible to raise them in your garden.
So you have the seeds at hand. But you are bothered about the cold weather outside. Do what millions of gardeners have been doing down the ages – protect your seedlings with the gentle covering of glass/cloches.
Stay healthy, Live Long And Prosper!