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As I have mentioned in previous reviews, we grow many of our own herbs and vegetables in our back garden, which although it quite small, its space has been maximised to the full. With a miserable, cold, wet May and June this year, my husband found that most of his vegetables were not showing much signs of growth, including vegetables that we would usually be eating around this time of year. We would not have the room for a greenhouse in our garden, and so my husband decided to purchase this Haxnicks Kitchen Garden Cloche which costs anywhere between £25 and £36 on various companies on the internet.
Haxnicks is a business which deals primarily with both trade and professional garden and vegetable growers. They stock a vast range of products and equipment to make life easier for those who love their gardens. They also have their own online shop where you can purchase items such as this kitchen garden cloche.
Haxnicks states that this Kitchen Garden Cloche will 'promote quick growth and healthy plants'. It is suitable for growing salads, vegetables and herbs, and claims to 'warm' the soil for sowing and planting. It also states that it protects against harsh weather (we have plenty to test this theory out), as well as animals and pets, keeping in the moisture at the same time. The product itself is made from 'galvanised and powder coated steel with tough UV resistant clear plastic and adjustable air vents'.
The dimensions of the product are: length 100cm, width 45cm and height 35cm.
Once the product had arrived, my husband set to work, one dark, cold and wet June evening, to assembly the cloche. It does state on the instructions that assembling this cloche is a two person job, and there is no doubt that it really does take two people. Attempting it on your own requires extreme patience and a week off work!
The cloche comes in several pieces, with the 2 end pieces that hold the air vents, the main cover, the cross bar, handle and then the bolts to hold it all together. Although the outside of the box claims that this product is 'quick and easy to assemble', on the actual instruction sheet it does give more of an indication that it isn't as easy as it seems. It states tha the polyester sheet, which is rigid, is 'a little tricky to handle' I would call this an udnerstatement, because my husband who is very very patient with such things was gettign rather frustated, particularly with the polyester sheet. The instructions themselves are easy to follow, the problems really are with the rigid sheet and trying to hold it in place to get the bolts screwed in. It has been rolled in the packaging in such as way as to make it more difficult to straighten enough to get the holes on the sheet and bolts lined up. It took us two attempts to get it all on, as the first time the sheet was the wrong way round. Even with two of us, this did involve an evening's work!
Apart from the difficulties with assmbling the product, the real test was to come with its use in the garden. At the time of us getting the product, we had just had a week of strong (unseasonal) gale force winds which had laready done much damage. I was a little concerned that should we have more weather like this, the cloche wouldn't stay in place over the vegetable, as they is no mechanism by which to hold it into the soil. My husband decided to watch and wait and put it over our lettuce leaves, and if it got very windy again, to try and find a way of holding it in place. Thankfully the wind settled and it has been relatively calm since that week. Within a few days, with the sun making a faint appearance, there was an astounding difference in the growth of our lettuce plants. It was very clear that that little heat from the sun gave a greenhouse effect and started the lettuce growing like it should at this time of the year. Within a week we were beginning to enjoy some garden lettuce, which up to that point had not grown enough to pick anything. My husband left it on for a number of weeks, and the lettuce is a terrific size now. The weather continues to be very mixed, but my husband has decided to move the cloche around and currently has it over our beetroot, as it too was showing little signs of growth. At least if the bad weather returns this summer, we know that this cloche will at least help in bringing up the growth of some of our vegetables. Obviously it cannot help with everything at the one time, but by rotating it round different vegetables, we can still enjoy our seasonal produce as we normally do.
All in all, this is a great investment product for those who like to grow their own, but don't have space for a greenhouse. We certainly noticed a huge difference within a couple of days of using the product. Now, my husband does say that during the autumn with the usual wind and rain, he will have to find some way to holding the cloche in the soil so it doesn't get blown away, but for the moment it is doing a great job. A great purchase, well worth the money!