Cloche and daggers

I’d really, really like some sort of glazed structure to start seeds off this early in spring, and to house tomatoes and aubergines through the summer. Greenhouses are bloody expensive, aren’t they?!  But I really, really hate plastic pop-up structures. I’ve tried these in the past and they soon deteriorate. And they are alway in a too-shouty bright plastic green.

Some years ago I compromised and bought wooden coldframes with corrugated plastic lights. The frames are still fine but the plastic has deteriorated to a yucky pale green and has cracked badly. Even the woodlice, that made homes inside the corrugated plastic, have abandoned ship, leaving a delightful green mould behind. Why they don’t make those panels sealed and replaceable, I don’t know. (Well, I do know, it’s to get you to buy another one!)

Anyway, I’m going to have a go at mending them (a January job, if ever there was one), but in the meantime I’ve assembled a few old-fashioned glass ‘tents’ to get some early seeds in. I’d seen a photo online, thought the idea looked attractive and easy to assemble and then take apart later. Having not worked with sheets of glass before, I was in for a bit of a disappointment.

I’ve bought horticultural glass, thinking it was specially for use in the garden. Well, no. ‘Horticultural’ glass, it turns out, basically means the cheapest, thinnest glass. Glass that isn’t fit for houses. It is completely the wrong sort of glass to have at foot height, around edibles and fingers (big or small) in a garden. It has razor-sharp edges which splinter easily, and, if you crack it, it will break into dangerous daggers and shards. So am I recommending you follow this experiment? No! Please don’t! I’ve made a £44 mistake (£32 of glass and £12 of clips). But as I bought it, and as I’ve discovered that more suitable toughened glass is five times as expensive, I’m going to use them to start off some early seeds. And now I understand why proper glazed greenhouses are so expensive!

So, I’ve assembled the glass into four tents (fiddly and stressful), which just fit in one of my raised beds. I’ve covered these with some fine mesh for a bit of additional warmth, and then added some cane hoops around (really as a visual warning to not touch the glass!). I will also add, that if these weren’t up on raised beds I would not have used them.

Under a couple of tents I’ve planted two types of early carrot, and then beetroot and radishes under the other two. And in another bed, where the leeks were, I’ve planted three rows of parsnips.

Now it’s all done I feel okay about it. It looks smart and, all being well the tents should provide enough warmth to get my first seeds germinating.

But I’m not throwing away my favourite glass coldframes catalogue anytime soon.


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