use to increase their crops. These techniques can be grouped into broad
categories depending on what they are trying to achieve.
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Possibly the easiest to understand are those techniques which are used to provide a better growing environment for plants and even small trees. The most commonly used is the cloche which is simply a covering for plants to provide a warmer temperature and at the same time control the amount of moisture in the soil.
The covering must let light through to allow plants to grow and in some cases, such as horticultural fleece, it also allows water to enter the growing area. Themost expensive type of cloche is a greenhouse which is really just an enlarged form of cloche. The cheapest and smallest type of cloche is a large plastic bottle, typically used to protect individual plants when frost is likely. All forms of this type of plant covering permit seeds to be sown a couple of weeks earlier than normal.
In between the two as far as cost is concerned is the polytunnel. This is a frame covered with polythene or a similar material. It provides lots of space to grow plants but is much cheaper than a greenhouse.
Another set of techniques is designed to protect plants and trees from pest damage including those from wildlife and birds. Thefruit cage comes into this category and it is primarily designed to protect fruit and vegetables from damage by birds and other wildlife. If you cover a fruit cage with netting it can also act as a deterrent for many insects. Beware though of leaving a covering on a fruit cage in winter. If it snows then the weight of the snow can tear the fabric and occasionally damage the structure of the fruit cage.
Horticultural fleece is often dual purpose. It retains heat in the soil and provides some protection from frost and at the same time it is excellent at preventing insects from laying eggs on leaves and eating them.
Other techniques fall into the category of general horticulture, the common hoe is an excellent example. Correct use of a hoe can reduce the weeding needed in a garden and is almost an essential tool on even a small allotment. It's worth researching the principles behind the correct use of a hoe because used incorrectly it is very inefficient whereas a correctly used hoe is a very efficient use of you efforts.
Used less frequently and often hired from a tool shop because of this, is the rotovator or mechanical soil tiller. Normally petrol driven (though sometimes electrical) these can cultivate large areas very quickly. If you plan to use a rotovator then our advice would to only use one when the soil is on the dry side, definitely not soon after heavy rain. Also, always go for the most powerful model you can afford, it makes the task so much easier.