I have a bunch of seedlings to take outside tomorrow, and need to cloche them to keep the freakin' rabbits out until we get our screen up. Alas, we buy our milk in glass and don't buy soda, so I don't have any of the usual resources around for DIY cloches. Can anybody think of something cheap or free? If all else fails, I may call down to a local dairy and ask about buying a bunch of milk jugs from them...
If you've got some way to support the plastic off the plants then a plastic drop cloth can work very well. THey are very inexpensive and effective. You'll want to use deck chairs, boxes, large flowerpots, etc. to make sure the plastic is well above the plants. I've also heard of people using storm windows (if you have the type that aren't fixed in place) balanced on hay bales or boxes or whatever.
But I don't have enough. I have 36 seedlings, and maybe six spare jars. Is it worth buying all those jars? Granted, they're far more usable in the future than plastic milk jugs. But they're much more expensive. And 3 dozen is a lot - am I likely to need that many in the future? Other than as cloches for next year's garden, anyway, by which time I could easily collect that many empty milk jugs or soda bottles from friends? <ponder>
I was thinking of taking my tomato cages, the three-sided folding ones, and opening them out like a canopy over the seedlings, then spreading poly over them. I guess that's still my least expensive option.
Another thought is to take tall, clear plastic soda cups and cut the bottoms off, and put one over each plant like a ring. I could cover the tops with, oh, I don't know. Plastic wrap? I hate using anything disposable, though, even something as light as plastic wrap. Hm... I could use some of plastic grocery bags that somehow manage to accumulate even though I use cloth bags...
Well, I guess it comes down to a contest between my morals (using something that's reusable indefinately, like glass jars) vs. using something that'll have to be disposed of after one or a few uses (even good poly discolors and gets gross after a couple seasons). If the price difference wasn't *so* vast, there'd be no question, I'd go with the "morals" side of the equation.
If it does not work with the jars, can you ask the neighbors or freinds? Surely someone you know must get milk in plastic jugs (or water or whatever). Then you could just throw them in the recycle when you are done.
Thank you for all the advice! I finally opted for the tomato cages, but with deer netting. I didn't need to truely cloche the seedlings, I wasn't looking for warmth, just rabbit protection until dh gets our new Rabbit Protection System
I think I will start saving wide-mouthed spaghetti jars this year, though, perhaps picking them out of the barrels at the recycling center, so I can cloche little seedlings next year. P'rhaps I can get things in a few weeks early that way