Seeing those first seedlings peek up out of the soil is a proud moment for novice and veteran gardeners alike.
Which makes it all the more dispiriting when a late-spring cold snap blows through or a squirrel decides your container garden is a good place to look for dinner.
An easy and inexpensive way to protect your wee plantlings is with a plastic pop-bottle cloche!
Any plastic bottle will do. Small ones are good for individual plants that grow straight up, and larger ones will cover multiple seedlings or ones that become bushy.
Unscrew and discard the cap. Remove any labels from the bottle.
Cut off the bottom few inches of the bottle and position it over your seedling(s). Push it a few inches into the soil so it stands upright on its own and won't be knocked over easily.
The humid greenhouse environment inside the cloche will protect the little plants from temperature swings. The opening at the top lets rain trickle gently onto the plant and also allows air to circulate (which helps keep fungus from growing).
The sturdy container will also deter critters from digging up your seedling and prevent harsh winds from stripping away tender new leaves.
When your plant grows too large for the cloche, just lift it off and recycle the bottle.
We first read about this method in You Grow Girl by Gayla Trail, available on Amazon.com for $10.88. A great book for newbie gardeners!
Related: Growing Potatoes in a Bag
(Image Credit: Gayla Trail, YouGrowGirl.com)