Having the ability to grow plants early in the season “under-cover”, means getting a head start on the growing year. They keep plants warm and protect from frosts. I’ve used plastic cloches for a while, mostly ones that I’ve bought ready made (for about £5 each) these are relatively small, covering not more than a single row of plants and not giving much headroom. So I decided to build something myself. Partly to have something custom made to my plot, and also to see what it would cost me in materials.
The basic frame is made from 38x47mm treated softwood, and the overall frame is about 2m long and about 0.8m wide.
I strengthened the corners and other joints with off-cuts. All held together with wood screws. I pre-drilled all of the screws to make assembly easier.
The hoops are made from flexible 15mm waterpipe, and screwed to the frame. I allowed for about a half-metre height above the centre of the frame.
The covering is 250G plastic purchased from E-Bay. I had a sheet that was 4m x 3m, and used as a double layer. Ideally slightly thicker plastic would have done as good a job and therefore a smaller sheet would have been needed. The sheet was secured to the frame using staples and trimmed with a knife.
- Timber £10 (plus some off-cuts from other projects)
- Plastic £8
- Water pipe: I already had some left over but it sells for around £2.30 for a 2m length.
- Screws & Staples: Again I already had these but expect to spend less than £5.
Drill, screwdriver, staple gun, Stanley-knife, hacksaw (to cut plastic pipe to length)
In total I spent about half a day building this (incl. shopping for materials). A nice level surface helped get the frame together. I’m pleased with the end result and it will give me a flexible area to grow plants early in the season. Cost wise this was probably on the expensive side but I did already have some of the materials and only really had to buy the wood and plastic.
The same type of framework could be used with netting instead of plastic to protect brassicas and other crops. With the plastic on, don’t forget to water the plants underneath.
I didn’t film a “How-to” video as there are plenty on YouTube, if you’re interested.