Advice on Cloches - Detirmined to beat local cats, high winds and Caterpillars!

Hi Folks,
I'm a bit of a New gardener and I'm looking for some advice on the use of Garden cloches.
We finished landscaping our garden last year and put in 8 x raised beds around 2m x 1m. Although my wife and I are novices, we had a reasonable amount of success with Kidney Beans, Peas, Courgettes, Mange tout and salads.
The one thing I discovered is that when you plant things, there are a number of things that are out to get you!
1.    Domestic cats Our next door neighbour has 5 cats which took great pleasure in using the beds as their personal toilet.
2.    The Wind! We live in a cliff top village in the Scottish Borders and suffer from extremely high winds. We lost 3 of our Courgette plants in one afternoon despite a 7 ft garden fence and the fact they were staked.
3.    Caterpillars The little buggers had a field day on our salads!
My plan this year is to come up with a solution that will beat all three of the above hence Im assuming cloches are the way to go?
My thoughts are to build wooden frames using decent quality timber I can get hold of 2x2 Douglas Fir at a good price.
All of the frames will be covered on all sides with clear 5mm Polycarbonate Sheeting. Some of the frames will also have the top covered with Polycarbonate (Almost a mini greenhouse for Tomatoes/Peppers etc) the others will have a top thats made of Galvanised netting to stop cats / birds / Cabbage moths etc.
PS The ones that are fully enclosed with Polycarbonate sheeting will have a hinged lid which can be opened on hot days to let heat escape.
I just wondered if there are any things I need to be mindful of? Im a competent woodworker so building them isnt a problem, I just not a competent gardener hence the question!
Any pointers / advice would be much appreciated.
Many thanks
Martin
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MartnJules


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On 3/18/12 2:27 AM, MartnJules wrote [in part]:

I had a neighbor whose dog would use my front lawn as a toilet. I told her that, if she did not stop her dog from relieving itself on my property, I would start using her front lawn as my toilet. The dog never entered my property again.

Even on cool, overcast days, fully-enclosed sections can get hot enough to cook the plants inside. All of your enclosures should have vents of some kind, perhaps rows of 1 cm holes drilled near the bottom and near the top.
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David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean, see
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@gardenbanter.co.uk says...

Someone else will advise on the cloches; but it's worth mentioning that in a windy location, a 7ft fence offers so much wind resistance that it causes considerable wind turbulance in its lee (the sheltered side). Swirling turbulence is notorious for dragging plants out of the ground especially large leafed ones like courgettes. In other words it's not the best way to reduce wind damage in the garden (and, in my experience of Scotland's wind, a tall solid fence probably won't last long). You may also find that your cloches act like a sail and fly away in gales, unless very well anchored.
The best wind protection for plants, is slowing down the windspeed and turbulance by letting it blow through dense planting. It doesn't need to be as tall as 7ft. From the list below, I'd particularly recommend cornus alba and rosa rugosa for cheap fast tough shelterbelts that can easily be controlled and shaped. If your cliff is on the warmer west coast, green phormiums also make good windbreaks.
http://www.glendoick.com/index.php?page=advice2-wind
Janet ( gardening on windy clifftop, Arran)
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MartnJules wrote:

I would deal with this as a separate issue. Start with the neighbour being nice, if that doesn't work be not nice.

This must affect the whole garden, I would try to deal with it by better wind breaks, a solid fence is not the best as it produces whirls and eddies.

It depends on what they are. If they come from eggs layed by butterflies/moths then a bird net will keep them out and not have too many side effects. Or use pyrethrum or BT. BT is very good and has no side effects (it only kills the grubs) but needs to be renewed after rain.

They will cook on hot days and the humidity will encourage fungus. Gal netting of about 5cm mesh will not stop cabbage moths, it needs to be finer.

If you remember.
David
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Hi Guys - thanks for the responses :-)
Just a few things from me: -
David (California) - Like the story about the neigbour's dog! Problem with Cats is that they'll go wherever they like - I know I can't beat them, so a physical barrier is my only option.
In terms of the heat build up - I can appreciate that in the 'Sunshine' state it would be a problem, just bear in mind that I'm in Scotland - we don't really do heat :-(
Janet (Arran) I'm very jealous of where you live by the way - Arran is so beautiful!
The fence I built was a ranch style fence, with slightly overlapping planks on either sides of the posts. This gives privacy but allows the wind to travel through. The posts are 4" square, go 4 foot into the ground and are set in solid concrete - It survived the infamous Scottish hurrican 'bawbag' last year so it will probably survive anything!
Good point about the turbulence - I didn't realise that would happen :-(
Good point about anchoring the Cloches down as well - Not quite sure how to do it at the moment, but will have to be a consideration!
David Hare-Scott - Good point about 'Remembering' to open the lids on the fully enclosed cloches (For the Chilli's/Peppers) - Not really sure how I'm going to manage this one. I want it to be warm inside, we tried Peppers outside last year and they came to nothing, converserly - don't want to cook them!
PS - Excuse my ignorance - But what is 'BT' when you refer to Butterfly's/Moths?
So thanks for all the replies - much appreciated. 'hopefully' I've added a picture of the plans for the beds in terms of what we're looking to plant in them.
Obviously the Kidney beans / Peas Mange tout wont need boxes (Thankfully)
Just a few last questions: -
In terms of heat build up in the enclosed Cloches - I read somewhere that a bucket of water in a cloche can act as a heat sink during the day and also dissipates heat in the night - Is this true?
What sort of temperature should I be aiming for in the enclosed cloches? (In terms of minimum/maximum?
I'll try and get a few pictures of my progress through the week.
Cheers
Martin
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MartnJules wrote:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bacillus_thuringiensis
It's for those who don't like to spray insecticide.
D
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On Sun, 18 Mar 2012 09:27:23 +0000, MartnJules

.....
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SkAX49qLEFM
aka water cannon or water scarecrow. Ponders use them to keep birds and raccoons out of ponds.
2. Wind!
....... well we planted evergreens to slow the wind down, they are staggered rows. Takes 10+ years. But staggered rows of fencing can work too. Even ripstop nylon with holes cut to prevent them sailing off. The ideal shape for directing wind up and over is a dome, a geodesic type dome.
3. Caterpillars
......... B. thuringensis and spray when the moths are out. A floating row cover could be used but not in your wind. Fortunately, moths are not laying all summer, just find out WHEN they are active in your area and spray for them then. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Somewhere between zone 5 and 6 tucked along the shore of Lake Michigan on the council grounds of the Fox, Mascouten, Potawatomi, and Winnebago
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