Cola bottle cloches

It has been longer than usual since I last posted, and for all the usual reasons that people don’t write — hectic times, and no wherewithal to bring things to a standstill for long enough to put anything down. I dislike it when the days get away from me, and every day that goes by without writing feels a little heavier than the last. When the boys are asleep, time seems to slow back down though. So instead of turning in early to get those extra hours of sleep (since they never get added on at the waking up end of things) I thought I’d put myself out of my misery and put a few words down about what’s up in the garden.
We are well and truly in the northern hemisphere, but autumn is still not quite a done deal here. Our daily highs are in the 80s/20s and although it has started to rain now and then, we are not in the soaked earth days of winter.
With the temperatures still so high, there are lots of grasshoppers and other hungry characters at large in the garden. All of my winter veg seedlings were getting devoured before they could grow much; even the chicken patrol has its limits (and lately the chickens have been invading the veg beds, too, leading to reinforcements of our chicken wire perimeters around the beds).
Before I go any further, let me point out that I know no self-respecting person would admit to having enough cola bottles to hand to do what I am about to describe. Any plastic bottle will do, of course — water bottles, which even the best of us end up with from time to time, would also work. This is just my way of putting the things to use.
So anyway, Ali pointed out that cloches might help matters. This is how I acted upon this useful bit of advice:
I sow our veg seeds in paper pots on trays that hold 24 pots, so I armed myself with that many bottles, cutting them just below the middle with a bread knife, and grabbed my favorite transplanting hoe. I was going to need short stakes, and it just so happened that there were lots of dried out asphodel stalks about (they grow wild here), so I gathered those.
I dug a hole and placed the stake:

added a seedling:

and once I’d gotten the seedling settled in, sat the bottle top onto the stake:

I started using the bottle top cloches about a month ago, and those first seedlings are doing really well. After about ten days under the cloche they got big enough to be liberated and the majority of them are still going strong. Being sheltered just gave them time enough to get big and tough enough to withstand the attacks inevitable in an organic garden. I bet they would be nice little shelters against frost when the time comes.

23 thoughts on “Cola bottle cloches

  1. This is a fab tip! You can also use the same type of bottles as a protective collar. Snip out a 4-5″ round ring and set around newly planted (or plug plants). Slugs and snails don’t like the sharp edge at the top, so ‘most’ of them won’t bother the plants.

  2. Laura

    Yay! I checked the blog last night, because sometimes my email notifications seem not to work, so it was a happy surprise to wake up to one!

    I feel exactly that way about writing, because I’ve been trying to get back into creative writing, which I haven’t done since I had to do a short story for a year as one of my subjects in Year 12, four years ago now. It’s even worse because I have so much free time, so no real excuse, but find the self-criticism the minute I start trying to put words together ends up paralysing any progress.

    1. It is very hard to silence that inner voice, I know. I actually started this blog because I was in the very state you are in now over creative writing. I thought if I just focused on writing here, I would at least be doing something. I am such a miserable self-motivator that I have to actually enroll in a class before I can set myself to the task of writing fiction. I’ve always wanted to try NaNoWriMo, but I haven’t attempted it yet.
      And I played the busy mother card, but I know that’s actually not a good excuse at all for not writing. There isn’t one, at least not that I can think of.

      1. Laura

        That is a good idea, because any writing you do is proof that you are able to write, and the comments you get from people/ readership must be a bit reassuring that what you write is interesting/ connects with people! I think also having a self-imposed limitation of subject matter could be useful, because otherwise the possibilities in creative writing seem infinite + overwhelming.

        I think it is at least a bit of a fair excuse. Many writers seem to have had to have many hours of spare time/ leisure time, maybe because the effort of writing is a lot, so they need time off from it which is considered relaxing/ non-effortfull to be able to then go back to the writing, and I can’t even imagine how much responsibility+effort+work goes into being a mother!

  3. This such a great idea! In my climate, it never fails that a serious drop in temperature will follow the transplanting of my seedlings into the garden. Using these bottles will take care of that. Thanks for a great tip!

    1. Thanks for stopping by. I kept on meaning to drop by and let you know that I made your amazing pappa al pomodoro a while back and it was the best “baby food” I ever had. Mmmmm…

      1. Isn’t it something? I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I’ve some frozen and it will make a great lunch on one of our upcoming frosty days.

  4. I don’t know why but I stopped using bottle cloches, I need to start again as it does give those seedlings extra protection, but what I like most here is using a stake or a stick – that will anchor them in nicely. Thank you! Now if you could just remind me again in Spring 😉

  5. Time has gotten away from me while traveling and I haven’t visited lately…I guess that is part of life…never enough time. It sounds like you have a good remedy to helping your seedlings get strong.

  6. These are great, i do this with big one gallon plastic milk bottles that a neighbour collects for me for the tomato plants, (though John will not do it for his- he is a snob like that!), it is definitely good for keeping the frost away, plus if it is hot you just slide the bottle up the stick so the seedling does not get cooked.. good post.. and now you can go to bed early again!! c

  7. Glad to read this post… it gives me hope for my patch! We’ve just sown some green manure, just about all we can do with it being so wet but we’ve started some seeds early indoors.

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