winterizing echeverias in Zone 8
Originally I had planned on bringing my mostly Echeveria collection of plants (all in containers) into my garage, put fluorescent lights six inches over them, and wait for winter to pass. Due to the large number of plants, my friends convinced me otherwise, and built a make-shift shelter in my backyard using shade cloth and frost blanket on an existing pergola. Problem is, the shelter blocks out even more light -- out in the open, the section of my backyard has much less direct sun during winter, but still enough to be considered as "bright shade" in my opinion. I am really tempted to just leave the plants out in the open, and cover them with floating frost blankets if necessary. But this last rainfall we had (not a rain storm, but several days of on/off rain so nothing could dry out) caused several of the more tender hybrids' bottom leaves to either turn slimy or get this brown mold on them which caused eventual rotting anyway.
I've already spent a couple of hundred dollars just on building the shelter my well-meaning friends talked me into doing; if I go back to my original plan, buying more shelving and light fixtures is going to set me back even further (i.e. money I don't have). I'd appreciate some thoughts on what I should do at this point -- given that I am in Zone 8 (SF Bay Area, not sure how to calculate the micro climate number), how big of a gamble am I taking by leaving the succulents out? Are there alternatives to bringing them in and still address the moisture problems?
I'd be grateful for any feedback. Thanks in advance!