Bell-shaped garden cloche.
Garden cloches are usually bell-shaped pieces of glass, sometimes called bell jars, used to protect seedlings and young plants from cold temperatures and spring snowfalls. The bottomless, solid pieces of glass are placed over tender plants and seedlings, usually overnight when the temperatures dip.
We've been experiencing an unsually warm spring in Chicago the past few days, but today the weather is changing and we may even get some snow. I planted a few seeds that are now coming up and unless I protect them they'll be killed by snow or frosts. I keep an eye out in thrift stores, yard sales and junk shops for cloches, along with other garden junk. Fortunately, I've been preparing for this moment for the past few years and have a collection of items I can use and plastic soda bottles.
Garden cloche from repurposed piece of glass
Cloche found at thrift storeThis little cloche/terrarium cover I found in a thrift store. It cost me $1.00
Garden cloche from recyclable empty soda bottle.
Garden cloches are very expensive and even when I find them for less than a dollar the frugal gardener within me winces at paying any money for them. You can make your own garden cloches to protect young plants and seedlings out of plastic soda bottles, gallons of milk, fast food cups and jars from your kitchen. For cloches made out of plastic items just cut off the bottom. Remove the cap during the day or on sunny days so the plants and seedlings inside don't overheat. I'm partial to making them out of soda bottles because they're clear, unlike the opaque gallons of milk, and from a distance may not be very noticeable. If you have neighbors that would raise a fuss over dozens of empty gallons of milk placed in your garden, use the clear plastic.
Lastly, check the home goods sections of discount stores in your area. Cloches as home accents have been popular for a while and their astronomical prices usually mean they end up being sold fairly cheaply at places like Marshalls and Big Lots.