Do you practice season extension in your garden? Extending the season is what it sounds like – extending your growing season longer into the fall/winter (or earlier in the spring). Some common methods are floating row cover, cold frames, and hoop houses.
It rainy climates, such as Seattle, a hoop house will keep all that excessive rain off the plants. They will also protect your plants from the wind, raise the inside temperatures at least 10 degrees, and keeps frosts and heavy dew off tender leaves. (They don’t, however, eliminate slugs as I always hope everything will do. Logical or not.)It is our first year doing any official means of season extension. I have overwintered things over the years without taking any precautions. But kale doesn’t really count. The stuff grows here no matter what you do to it. This year I was committed to installing hoop houses. We have the raised beds. Adding a hoop house should be simple right?
Yes, I was right. It was ridiculously easy. I am kicking myself for not doing it years ago. Easy, Inexpensive. And the supports should last forever, the covering plastic a long, long time.
Even the Babylady helped. To make, we went to local orange box hardware store, which I loathe with a passion reserved for few very stores. But I was with the Babylady and the small hardware store I tend to use has small, narrow aisles. Perfect for one small child to pull crap off both sides of the aisle at the same time and causing me to have both a panic attack and a hot flash. So off to HD I went, child in tow.
Supplies needed: rebar stakes in 3 foot lengths (2 pieces for each pipe) , ½” PVC pipe in 10 foot lengths, 1” binder clips/bulldog clamps, and a roll of 6 mil plastic sheeting.
You’ll put a hoop every 4 feet or so. I didn’t measure but you want to divide up the bed you are trying to cover into roughly equal sections about 3-4 feet apart. I don’t think I’d go further than 4 feet as it will decrease the overall stability.
To put in hoop you’ll drive rebar stake in to ground on each side where you have decided to place your sections. I used just hand pressure but if you have more difficult soil you might need to drive it in with a hammer. Our raised beds are made of cinder blocks, so it was easy to drive them down into the hole. They aren’t all even in height but are all securely in the ground.
Next you will slide one end of the pipe over a piece of rebar until the pipe touches the ground. Then grab it, bend it over (into hoop shape) and thread it over the opposite rebar until this end touches the ground.
Repeat this for each hoop section.
Unroll sheeting so that it will hang down over one end of your hoop house. Secure in place temporarily with binder clamps.
To determine length go to opposite end and make sure the sheeting will cover that end and cut. The sheeting should now cover the top and the sides and have an opening on each end. Just a little hint: The length you don’t really want to eyeball. Trust me. I did and it is ridiculously long so I ended up with a useless piece of plastic sheeting that is probably too small to do anything with and I’ll need to buy more. Boo.
Lastly, you’ll even the sheeting out from side to side. Apply binder clip to top center of each hoop to secure sheeting. Apply additionally clips to base of hoop on each side. To secure the ends grab a piece of each side and a bit off the middle and secure with binder clip.
On warm days you’ll want to open the tunnel ends to allow for air flow.
Don’t forget you’ll still need to water and manage pests (slugs, I’m looking at you!) as necessary.
I am hoping we can keep ourselves in lettuce, spinach, chard, and radishes for the winter!
*Interested in the making of our raised beds? Check here!