Suburban Permaculture 20 miles from Washington DC

Season extension: How to keep your garden going into fall and winter!

So its getting cold outside but you still want to garden.  Use low tunnels to extend your season and grow cold hearty crops all winter. Ever had a winter carrot or kale?  They are amazing!  The cold weather actually concentrates the sugars.  Plus, come spring, whatever stopped growing will all of a sudden explode with life giving you an awesome quick crop when nobody has anything.

Low tunnels are like mini green houses over your garden row to keep the soil warmer so you can keep on growing and enjoying fresh greens into winter.  

 

Hoops – These hoops can be difficult to find in the size you need and I would recommend you don’t use PVC.  PVC will break on you at the worst possible time.  I started out using PVC and regretted it.  I’m in the process of replacing them with 1/2 metal EMT pipe. This EMT pipe is strong,  inexpensive, and you can get it at any hardware store.  The tricky part is how to bend it.

Maybe you’ve seen these hoops but it looks complicated and you need special tools to bend them otherwise they kink up if you try to do it by hand.  No worries, here is how you can make your own pipe bender and get whatever custom shape/size you want in about a minute of bending. 

 

Garden hoops ready to be covered in plastic. I use cheap painters plastic sheeting.  

First measure the width of your garden to determine how wide your hoop needs to be.  Mine is about 44 inches.

Take half the width of your garden (22 inches for me) and get a piece of string that long. put a screw in the middle of the board and attach the string to it and a pen or pencil then simply trace your curve. Next screw in your screws (I used 2 1/2 inch screws) along the line, the more the better.

The video shows you how I traced the line (this is a second traced line just for demonstration purposes). See how the screws are on the line.

You need an end piece to slide the pipe into and hold it while you bend it.  I used a piece of 1 by 1 wood about 3 1/2 inches long. Its helpful to screw this part in while the pipe is between it and the screws so you know you have the distance right. I made a bunch of 1 by 1s for the backside so the 2 1/2 inch screws would have something to grab on to for additional strength.

Happy Gardening!

 



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