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Spring cleaning

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Latest post from MARKSVEGPLOT – a blog about food and gardening in England”

My Broad Beans are reaching the stage when I’ll want to plant them out in one of the raised beds, but I want to introduce them gently to the Big Wide World, so in their early stages my plan is to give them the protection of my Parasene “Longrow” cloches. The only trouble is, my cloches have been sitting under a tree at the bottom of the garden all Winter:

They look decidedly scruffy!

To make matters worse, they have been standing immediately below the bird-feeder, so they were covered in seed husks and bird poo as well as algae, mould and grime.

In that grubby state they would hardly let any light through. Definitely time for a Spring Clean!

So it was out with a bucket of warm soapy water and a stiff brush, to give them a thorough scrub-down. Fortunately the clear PVC panels (2 on each cloche) can be removed simply by unclipping them, which made the task a lot quicker and easier. After about an hour’s worth of scrubbing and rinsing, they look almost as good as new:

The cloches are 1.2 metres in length, so they fit very conveniently in my 2.4m raised beds. I find them very useful. They provide protection against damage caused by frost, wind, heavy rain and (most importantly for me) animals.

I have a bit of a Love-Hate relationship with these cloches. The concept is great – in terms of design they are just what I need – but the construction leaves a lot to be desired. They are much flimsier than I had hoped for when I bought them The metal bends easily and a couple of the PVC panels have cracked. The end-pieces provided were incredibly flimsy and fiddly to fit. They only lasted one year, so now my cloches are open-ended.

Despite these criticisms, I have had the cloches for six years now, so I suppose they can’t be that bad. If you are thinking of buying any, you can get them from lots of different suppliers – e.g. Harrod Horticultural - for about £40 each. Just don’t be deceived by the description “…rugged steel frames”!

To read more articles like this, on Gardening and Gastronomy, please visit * *


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