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How To Protect Veg Crops This Winter

22nd November 2018

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Make the most out of your space and discover how to keep growing veg crops through winter

Cloches
Protect your winter-hardy salads from slugs and snails that are still active at this time of year while also intensifying the watery sunlight to boost germination rates and encourage plants to develop faster. Cloches are a perfect piece of equipment if you’re growing a few individual edibles, but can quickly get expensive if you have a number of crops to protect.

GYO’s Tips
1. If using cloches to harden off crops, gradually increase the ventilation inside the cloche to allow your plants to adapt to outdoor conditions
2. Remember that night-time temperatures will only be a few degrees warmer for your crops under cloches, so make sure that you sow hardy varieties
3. Prepare veg beds for sowing next spring by covering the ground with the cloche. This will raise the soil temperature, making it more suitable for the germination of various seeds

Mini Polytunnels
If you have the space, this product can be an incredibly helpful growing aid for gardeners who don’t want the restrictions and cost of a greenhouse. Crops such as melons and other tropical plants will thrive in these conditions, especially if you consistently damp down the flooring during the summer, creating a welcomed humid atmosphere that helps them develop.

GYO’s Tips
1. Place your mini polytunnel in a sunny spot to keep crops in balmy conditions as the temperature drops outside
2. Remember to provide a good level of ventilation by opening the panels to prevent the spread of fungal pathogens, but make sure you shut them again once the wet weather returns
3. Overwintering brassicas and Oriental greens will flourish in these conditions during the autumn season
4. On those rare sunny days, keep an eye on humidity levels to protect your plants from diseases

Fleece and Mesh
This inexpensive covering can be a godsend for growers living in particularly frosty parts of the UK. The fleecing insulates plants and protects the leaves from the cold, which is vital as dropping temperatures can cause stunted growth and a reduction in the quality of yields later in the year if crops are left to battle the elements. This thin layer also acts as a reliable form of pest control, as many flying insects aren’t able to pass through. They’re available to buy online and in most garden centres, but specific products may have slightly differing uses.

GYO’s Tips
1. Keep the lid of your cold frame wedged open on sunny days to allow a good level of ventilation and to prevent the soil from drying out and damaging crops
2. This equipment can also be used to harden off seedlings and help them acclimatise to outdoor conditions before being transplanted
3. Sow winter lettuce and pea shoots in this sheltered environment now to get a good start on next year’s growing season

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