I’m a big fan of season extenders like cold-frames and mini hoop-houses for the family garden. Last year I managed to erect a mini greenhouse of sorts, using PVC and plastic, and with that I hardened off my seedlings in anticipation of the growing season. This year I not only want to use that method to protect tender seedlings, but also to get a jump on the 2013 growing season.
There are lots of resources available online (see the list of resources at the end of the post), I simply adapted the plans I found to suit my skill level with tools and the resources I had available for the project. Using my raised beds made this project a breeze!
What you need:
- Drill or screw driver.
- 1″ screws
- Tape Measure
- Pencil or marker
- 1/2″ CPVC in 10′ lengths (2-4 depending on how tall you want the hoop-house to be)
- 1/2″ U-brackets (x8)
- 3.5mil (or greater) clear plastic
- Duct tape
What you do:
First decide how tall you want your hoop-house to be. My first hoop-house of the 2013 season is being used for growing greens, so a shorter hoop-house will do just fine. I made it about 2-feet tall, which meant that I could cut the 10-foot lengths of CPVC pipe in half to get my four hoops. These beds are 3’x7′–four hoops work well to support the plastic.
Next take your U-brackets, screws, drill or screwdriver, and tape measure. Try to space the brackets evenly using your tape measure, and screw each one to the inside of the box, about two inches below the rim.
Then, if you’re making a short hoop-house, cut your CPVC in half. Slip one end down into a U-bracket, bend it over the garden bed, and slide the other end into the bracket on the opposite side.
Now it’s time to cover your mini hoop-house with plastic. There are a couple of different methods you can employ, on my first attempt I took some PVC left over from another project and cut them to length and duct-taped them to the long edges of the plastic, leaving 2-3 feet at either end, draped it over the hoops so that the PVC rested on the rim of the raised bed, and closed up the ends.
It looked great, but the problem I had was that the wind would catch under the eastern side and lifted and tugged at the plastic until eventually it tore away from the PVC. I think if I could have somehow hooked the PVC to the wooden frames this method would have worked great.
But instead I chose to simply drape the plastic over the hoop-house, letting it fall to the ground. I weighted the plastic down with whatever I could find, in this case chunks of firewood, but you could use sand-bags, rocks–anything handy and heavy. Now the wind can’t get up under the plastic to rip it away.
Once the soil in these raised beds has a chance to be warmed inside this make-shift greenhouse I will plant our first lettuces and greens. What an easy way to get a jump on the gardening season!
Low-Tunnel Construction: How to build a mini hoop-house – from Mother Earth News
Build a Mini Hoop-House for Winter Gardening – About.com