Speed Spring Crops Along

If you don’t have a greenhouse, and spring is long and cool – this is for you. 5 simple ways to warm soil + protect young seedlings from the up and down spring weather. Let’s get your grow on!


plastic cloche spring

Cloches are the best greenhouse substitute. Hoops are easy to make or find secondhand. Tall hoops are the way to go – 1.5m to 1.8m high is my go to. Taller allows for healthy airflow, important because things get condensated beneath short cloche hoops covered in plastic = fungus, mildew and rot. The other huge advantage of height is that it buys you time. If the weather stays cold for ages, crops can continue to grow beneath the cover. Use cloches to kick start salads, zuchinni, cucumbers, dwarf beans, pumpkins, melons and determinate/ bush tomatoes.

Black plastic

Looks ugly, but its fab! This is how I warm the soil in prep for planting kumara. Use this trick for any heat loving crop eg: pumpkin or melon. Simply slash a slit and plant through it. It’s like jumping into a bed that’s been pre warmed with an electric blanket – delicious!


a selection of vegies in containers - right by the front door for ease

Don’t underestimate the temperature difference of soil in a container as opposed to the soil. Especially if its black! Containers are a great way to get some smaller, quick turn around crops like salads, dwarf beans, kale, bok choy, dwarf tomatoes or beetroot going, to tide you over until the weather improves. Here’s my container growing guide.

Strawbales, car windscreens + old windows

Stacked bales of straw make an excellent temporary shelter for vegetable gardens

This eclectic collection is all about insulation – blocking off the cold south while at the same time holding the warm north in. Bang a couple of stakes in on the south side of the seedlings you want to protect and lash an old window to it – sorted! Likewise a row of straw bales or whatever insulating thing you can rustle up.

Old crops nursery

nursery plants
Old parsley plants make an excellent nursery to protect new seedlings

Old crops heading off to seed make an awesome nursery. When parsley, endive, broccoli (to name a few), tower up to seed they create a golden space beneath, protected from birds and weather. Not as hot as cloches or plastic, but a real leg up for seedlings in changeable weather. A suddenly hot or windy or cold day is hard on new transplants, not so when tucked under mama. Snap off enough foliage to create a space and some light. Dollop compost + plant away.

Established greencrops also provide excellent protection. Create pockets amongst, and proceed as per above. I like to start my pumpkins in this way, amongst a lupin greencrop. They love it!