I originally wrote this post to show how to extend the growing season in the Fall. However, the information is just as applicable in the Spring to get your season started earlier and protect your plants from frost. As the temperatures warm, you can use just the floating row cover (no plastic) or shade cloth to protect the plants from too much sun. It also keeps cats, bugs, birds and kids out of your raised beds!
This year we decided to extend the growing season by making hoop houses over 2 of our grow boxes. I had a different idea in mind when we put these together. You will want to use the 1/2 inch pipe since it’s more flexible than the 3/4 inch size- even so, the flexibility is a bit limited. I thought we would be able to fit the pipes into T fittings and it would hold. However, they ended up snapping and breaking so we ended up doing it red neck style… we had to save the greens before it froze!
(for 2 4 x 8′ boxes)
8- 1/2 inch PVC pipes
12-small metal brackets with screws to anchor pipe to grow box (see picture below).
wire to wrap the pipes together for 2 boxes that are 8×4
6- X-style irrigation pipe fittings for 1/2 inch pipes.
2- packages Floating Row Cover
2- packages plastic (from the paint section of the home improvement store).
Miscellaneous rocks and heavy objects to anchor the plastic down OR special C- clips that you can hook onto the 1/2 pipe to hold the fabric.
1. Prepare 1/2″ PVC pipe. For the 4 foot x 8 foot boxes we’re using here, no cuttting of the pipe was necessary- we’ll use the full lenght.
2. Loosely secure 6 metal brackets onto the grow box, 3 on each side, measuring evenly between all 6.
3. Insert the end of the pipe into the metal loop, secure.
Now, some people mess up here because they just do the hoops. You’ll need to add bracing between the hoops to keep the whole unit upright and functioning.
4. Cut an additional pipe into 3 sections fitted and measured to be secured in between each hoop.
5. Fit the 1/2 inch pipe into a T (or in this case a cross or “x”piece) and secure to hoop with heavy duty wire. Pipe must be cut to fit into the 3 x’s.
6. You will need the heaviest plastic you can find. This is 6 ply. If you can find 8 ply, that is even better. Cut to fit the box so it hangs past the ground.
7. Anchor the plastic with the clips or heavy objects. In the case of last fall, the squash did just the trick!
8. When the days get reliably warm and all chance of frost has passed, remove the plastic and replace with the “floating row cover” which is breathable and allows sunlight to permeate.
Be sure to check the weather and give the plants air to breath especially if it gets over 40`, they can cook! For additional protection you can use a fabric row cover. I place this over my crops and then put the plastic over the hoops. I purchase mine at the Steve Regan Company.
Join Emily, the Organic Suburban Farm Girl, here each Friday to get your weekend tasks done! If you’re just joining us, we’re working our way through the ORGANIC suburban vegetable garden in Utah week-by-week. It’s always possible to catch up! Follow the link below to check out last Friday’s post!