Sunday, March 20, 2011

Some Nice Weather

We had some really sunny and warm weather on Thursday and Friday. On Friday it even got up to 70 degrees for the first time. So of course I went outside to do a little gardening.

Now Friday was really windy. I tried putting up my hoops to make a little greenhouse to harden seedlings off during really windy days. But when I got the plastic on, it just flattened them. So they need more support. I'm thinking a ridgeline down the middle, but I think it also has to be attached to the end of the bed or the whole thing will just flatten at once. It might be better to have it lower too. Some really strong winds go along the garden, but the wind is much less lower down. Right now the hoops are 9' long. I think about 18" shorter would be better. That would take the ridge line down about 9". If anyone else does this, how do you keep it all from blowing flat in a really strong wind?

I also got to test how my screening does in a wind. I put some reed fencing in front of the compost piles to screen them. I didn't want to tack them onto the compost structure too much since I want them easy to take off. So the less the better for me. But it wasn't quite enough in the wind so I made one more attachment and it held. So that will work now. Later I'll find out how annoying it is to take on and off. I'll find out if is worth the trouble.

Then I prepared one of my cranberry beds. Well it isn't "mine". The fenced in vegetable garden is mine and the rock wall garden is mine. Which means I do all the work and reap all the rewards. But the rest of the yard which will be planted in a lot of edible fruit will be owned by both townhouses. Which means the work is shared and the harvest will be too. We have two cranberry patches. I added a bale of peat moss to the one closest to my side of the house. I'm not making a bog, but the soil does need to be acidic. The testing said it was about a pH of 7. Way too high for cranberries. I'm hoping the peat moss is enough to lower the pH enough for them to be happy. I'll have my neighbors work on the other patch this week. We also need to do the same thing to where the blueberries will be planted. I have one bale right now that we haven't used yet, but we probably need about three more bales.


  1. My hoops seem to be quite a bit lower and also I have made snug fitting brackets fastened to the wood to put the ends of the hoops into. I havent had any wind problem, so I think that helps. If you go back on my blog to 2010 and click on March, there are 4 photos of the construction. On this date last year I already had a bunch of stuff planted in the hoop houses and the garden all tilled. Sooo frustrating this year to still have 4 to 12 inches of snow on the gardens!

  2. One possible solution is to hammer a 3 foot piece of 1/2" rebar into the soil, leaving about a foot above ground, and slide the hoops over the rebar. Good luck. Mike

  3. I love your new garden, Daphne. Everything looks so neat and tidy. I really need to do something about my compost pile this year. it's so ugly. I'll have to see if I can find some pallets.

    Will you be purchasing some additional compost and topsoil this year for your beds? I never seem to be able to produce enough.

  4. How wonderful to see your garden again - I bet you thought the snow would never go away! I love the design of your bed and I know your garden is going to be stunning this summer!

  5. Daphne, I'm using 10' PVC for my hoops. We have some pretty heavy winds here at times (30+ MPH at times) and I don't have any problems with them blowing down. Here's a link to one of my blog posts:

    The third photo down shows some of my beds. I have brackets screwed to the inside of the beds to hold the ends of the PVC in place and I staple a board to the bottom of the plastic on the long sides of the beds to hold the plastic down. I have about a 3' over hang of plastic on the ends that I roll up (same as you'd do a French Twist if it were hair) and then anchor that with a plastic clamp. We've had some wicked wind, rain and hail in the past two weeks and the beds have come through just fine....

  6. Kathi, I use rebar to attach the hoops. The rebar was solid and didn't move. The plastic bent.

    Gardenvariety-hoosier, I use a two foot piece of rebar. The rebar stayed put. The plastic itself bent.

    Thomas, I will purchase some compost. I'm trying to find manure compost but the fields are so wet right now no one can get to anything. I have one farm that is going to try to find someone to haul it to me, but maybe, maybe not. If not I'll just have to use the leaf and twig compost that isn't as good. I didn't produce any compost last year really. So I need to buy it all this year. I'm guessing I'll never make enough and have to buy it from year to year, but maybe not every year.

    Jane, I did think it would never go away. And still it melted out in time.

    Deb, your pvc must be stronger than mine, because mine bent right over. What kind of PVC pipe?

  7. I'm using 1/2" PVC, SCH 40...

  8. Glad to see you've gotten to enjoy some beautiful weather! Doesn't it make you happy? Your garden looks beautiful! I'm going to miss the feel of your old beds though... :)

  9. Your new garden is gonna be so beautiful, and I know that you're excited to get it going for the first time...

  10. Hi, Daphne. I've learned so much from you about veggie gardening. Sorry you're battling your hoops.

    Mine are 9FT long 1/2" diameter PVC anchored to the outside of my 4x8 raised beds with metal half-round fittings screwed in with one at the top and one at the bottom of my two stacked 2x6s.

    I don't have rebar reinforcement. However, I have 5 hoops spaced along an 8FT bed. Maybe adding another hoop between your existing ones would help since you're covering a 16FT span?

    I have the 6-mil plastic anchored with a 1x2 board screwed the length of the 2x6 on one side and the other side loose and long enough to weigh down with a 4x4 that I roll off for access. The ends are just folded over on themselves.

    It's withstood 50-mile winds and several inches of snow this winter without any incident.

    Also, I agree that the 9FT PVC bent over a 4FT bed makes an excessively tall hoop, but it was more difficult to flex the PVC when we tried a shorter length--probably possible, but more patience than we had at the time.

    Here's a long-shot photo of my hoops:

  11. I use 1/2 inch electricians conduit (stiffer and has UV stabilizer in it) and they are anchored to the outside of the beds by fitting into 1 inch diameter metal bracket supports that are bolted to the bed frame. My hoops hold ups to wind and even modest amounts of snow.

  12. Oh, 70 degrees! That sounds really nice- we're still getting the cold, but not too much snow. I decided to try Coleman's idea this year and put a hoop over two 30" beds. My plan is to make a combo of these and a chenille, which I love for ease of access- both in his books. I have the 1/2" pvc over rebar, and the ribs are 2' apart- for snow load. I am going to try weaving the plastic under and over the pvc so it can be slid up- similar to a chenille. Have fun working in the warmth! And happy spring!

  13. To keep my hoops in place, I simply bracketed 6 inch PVC pipe just big enough to slide the hoop PVC into it, to the side of my beds. I just slip the hoops in and they don't move. I did add a cross beam of PVC (held with twisty ties through holes I drilled in both the hoops and the top beam. All told, it helps to hold the frame in place during huge wind storms, but the plastic cover's another matter. hehe.

    As for the blueberry bed, I didn't amend my entire bed, but filled in the big hole I dug for the blueberry starts with a healthy dose of peat, along with fertilzier for acid loving plants. I mulch with pine needles to help keep down the competative weeds and provide some more acid to the soil. Hope that help! Great work!

  14. Can I just say how excited I am to see you starting your beds? I cannot WAIT to see them all come to life!!!

  15. Sheesh, we were not even close to 70 here on Friday. That must have been nice!

    Your beds look great Daphne.

  16. Deb, thanks

    Megan, Yes the weather was beautiful, but now it is snowing again. I don't think this one will stuck here though.

    Kalena, thanks

    EG, I am. I can't wait to plant it up.

    Kelly, thanks

    kitsapFG, hmm I wonder if that would be stronger. The issue with only 1/2" pvc or conduit is that it won't go over the rebar (unless it is 1/2" ID pipe, but I'm assuming people are quoting OD)and I kind of like that solution for attaching the best. But maybe I should switch.

    Tsssa, This week is cold. We are getting two snow storms now. Brrr. I hope it warms up more next week. I want to plant my peas. The beds would be warm enough if we get back to our normal temps.

    Sinfonian, we are going to take the pine needles we have and mulch the cranberry beds. Sadly there are not enough of them to mulch both. I wish.

    Barbie, Me too.

    Kelly, I loved the warm weather. Sadly it was such a windy day. I had my back door open for a bit, but then all the leaves started blowing in. I had to resweep the floor.

  17. I really love the look of your garden. Beautiful. Hopefully you'll get more pine needles. Apparently there's something in the soil that is helped by their addition, maybe something mychorrizal?

  18. I hope they don't mind my sharing, but I've seen some good stuff on their blog. I like the supports to keep them from falling sideways and also tying the hoops from side to side to keep them from flattening out on top.
    Here's an example: