Protect Your Seedlings By Using Milk Jugs

Using milk jugs to cover seedlings offers several advantages regarding their growth and protection. These jugs function as mini greenhouses by creating a warm and sheltered environment perfect for plants to begin their life cycles. By capturing and retaining heat from sunlight, milk jugs establish a microclimate that accelerates growth and shields the seedlings from cold temperatures, frost, and wind. 

In addition to providing thermal insulation, milk jugs serve as a physical barrier against potentially harmful pests and animals. Placing a milk jug over each seedling creates a protective shield that effectively repels pests and allows the seedlings to develop without being disturbed. This protective covering ensures the seedlings can securely establish themselves, increasing their likelihood of successful growth.

When using milk jugs to protect baby sprouts, they should not be left on for more than approximately 10 days. Additionally, if the temperature exceeds the maximum threshold by 10 degrees Fahrenheit, or more, excessive heat can accumulate underneath and scorch or kill your plants. Enclosed containers can also hinder photosynthesis, resulting in slower plant growth and less yield.

How to create a milk jug cloche

By repurposing plastic milk jugs, you can easily create a protective covering, or cloche, for your garden. To create a DIY cloche, cut out the bottom of the jug on three sides and leave the fourth side as a flap for anchoring the cloche to the earth. Place the container over the seedling and fold the bottom out and away from the plant. Secure the flap with a rock, brick, or tent spike. This will prevent your upcycled cloche from being blown away or accidentally knocked over.

It's important to save the milk jug caps because you'll need to cover the mini greenhouses at night to keep your babies from falling victim to lower temperatures. In the morning, remove the lids so that moisture inside the jug will evaporate and let the warm air circulate. The cut-out bottom and anchored flap provide stability, and using the jug caps during cold nights safeguards the plants from frost. On warm days, the jug can be entirely removed to expose the seedling to sunlight and temperate air.

Other ways to protect your seedlings

There are a multitude of different ways you can protect your little sprouts — all you need is a bit of creativity. The best part is that they're all budget-friendly. If you have a Tupperware cabinet, chances are there are a few bottoms that are missing their lids. Empty water or soda bottles can be used in the same manner as milk jugs. While they're not going to win you the most beautiful plant cloche award, they'll get the job done and get it done right.

In the event of a weather emergency, like a sudden frost, repurposing cardboard boxes is a quick and efficient way to create a nice warm environment for your plant babies. Alternatively, if your seedlings are just starting out, paper or plastic cups make effective miniature cloches. If available, sturdy baskets or buckets can also serve as reliable enclosures, as long as their handles don't get in the way. Lastly, plant pots are also perfect impromptu coverings.