Blog Archives

Garden Improvement – Hoop Houses – Update 1

One of the first garden improvements I am doing this year is adding hoop houses to four of the beds (1 existing, 3 new). I am constructing low hoop houses, specifically. Why? It is one of the best ways for extending the growing season. I do not have the space or money for an actual greenhouse (one day!), and with hoop houses, I don’t really need one. With these on some beds, it allows me to get plants in the ground about a month earlier than without. It will also allow me to grow plants far longer into the fall, and for some crops such as the lettuces, spinaches, kales, etc., I will be able to winter them over and be able to harvest fresh veggies very early the following spring. I had intended to have this completed around the 1st of March, but Mother Nature thought otherwise this year, as I posted about previously, however, that is not a complaint. It just means I have to really haul butt to get them done ASAP.

As in most things, there are many ways to build hoop houses. A very common, and inexpensive, method is to use 1/2″ Schedule 40 PVC pipe. I, originally, was going to go this route. Then I learned that PVC was very bad for the environment. Further, PVC can leach toxins into the ground, which would mean into the garden and into the plants. And, lastly, unless a protective paint is applied, the PVC will deteriorate quickly in the sun. All three of these factors where big negatives for me. I do not want to use something bad for the environment, I definitely do not want chemicals and toxins leaching into the garden, and I do not want to have to replace the pipes every couple of years. I would rather use a solution that would last a long time, and that would not cause harm to its environs.

The other option I looked at was using electrical conduit (EMT) similar to what I used for the trellises. I eventually settled on 3/4″ EMT as opposed to 1/2″. This was for added support and strength. It can get rather windy at times, and I would rather spend a little extra money (still very reasonable, however) for more support. The next issues was, how do I bend the EMT into 4′ wide hoops? Thanks to the Internet and Google, I was able to find a site that sells an appropriate bender to do what I was trying to do. Now that I have explained what and why, allow me to show you how.

Hoop Bender 03-08-2014 Here is the bender attached to the corner of my deck. It is really easy to use, and it allows for both 1/2″ and 3/4″ EMT. Make sure you have plenty of room. The EMT is 10′  long, and it is all used. I had to reposition the bender three times before I was able to bend without difficulty. EMT Being Bent 03-08-2014

For the 12′ long beds, I am using 5 hoops, one every 3′. For the 4′ beds, I am only using 2, one on each end. I have extra EMT in case I need to add extra hoops for stability. Once I had all the hoops bent, I began attaching them to the sides of the garden beds.

Hoop Attachment 03-15-2014

I am using two conduit straps for each hoop, again for extra stability. Soil covers the lower strap, so I did not tighten the screws completely. I want to slip the hoops off easily (or extend them by adding additional EMT) when the plants are large enough without having to disturb the surrounding soil (and plants).

Here is one of the 12′ beds with all 5 hoops attached. Both of the 12′ beds are at this point, and the 4′ beds’ hoops will be very soon.

Hoops Attached to Bed 03-15-2014

Next steps:

  1.  Add greenhouse plastic
  2.  Add an easy way to raise the sides
  3.  Add vents in the ends to prevent over heating
  4.  Monitor daily temperatures

I will make an update post once the hoop houses are completely finished, which really must be soon. The peas are not going to wait much longer!

Until then, Happy Gardening!

Advertisements

2014 Garden – Update 2

This post will largely consist of pics of the growth progress, as I think that will do more than the words I add. I will say, everything is growing quite well! Just about everything has germinated, which includes all the tomatoes, the celery (which, I have read, is hard to grow), and most of the peppers! The peas are doing so well, that I worry I won’t have the beds ready in time!

First a picture of how I have the shelves set up currently. The top shelf is my ‘after germination’ shelf. It is where I move the plants that have germinated well, which occurs on shelf 2. It has the most heat directed at it, since things like tomato seeds and pepper seeds like that. The third self is the ‘medium-height’ shelf. Once a plant is too big for the top shelf, I move it to the third. Don’t ask why I have them ordered so funky. It just happened that way. The bottom, and fourth shelf (which is not seen in this picture), will be where I move the plants that are getting big, like the peas. Grow Shelf (1-3) Confiuration 03-05-2014In most of these pictures, the plant name is visible on the Popsicle stick. This first one is when the celery first pushed above the soil. I took this picture March 6th.

Celery 03-06-2014

Peas!

Peas 03-05-2014

Peas2 03-05-2014

Peas3 03-05-2014

Herbs and Cauliflower.

Herbs and Cauliflower 03-06-2014

Marigolds and Peas, and Cabbage.

Marigold and Peas 03-06-2014

Marigolds and Cabbage 03-06-2014

Tomatoes!

Tomatoes 03-06-2014

Tomatoes2 03-06-2014

Tomatoes3 03-06-2014

Tomatoes5 03-06-2014

This is the very first pepper (Paprika) just starting to push up through the soil. I was so pleased to see this!

Paprika Pepper 03-01-2014

The last photo, I took yesterday, March 9th. I was out working in the beds on an improvement project (that update is coming very soon), and I saw this growing in one of my squares. I had planted onion seed last year, but it did not have time to do anything. It was covered all winter with a blanket of dried leaves, and had wintered-over successfully. I hadn’t meant to do that. Happy accident! 🙂

Winer Over Onions 03-09-2014

And that is how the garden is growing at the start of the second week of March. Time is a ticking, and I need to get a lot done in a short amount of time. Stay tuned for further updates to this series, as well as the start of some new post series’.

Until then, Happy Gardening!