Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Hoophouse.

I got busy this morning expecting the rain to start anytime. Instead, the sun has been peeking through the clouds giving me a warm welcome on a chilly morning. It was 34 degrees when I loaded up the wheelbarrow with wood that I split last week. I brought it inside where it will dry faster than under cloud cover.

On Sunday, I picked up the pipe for my hoophouse. During the first week of December, employees get 20% off regular prices on anything in the store. I made good use of the discount gathering all the things I needed including glue for the kitchen countertops. I purchased the plastic last month when the price dropped during an insulation sale. This morning, I drilled the holes for the 1/2" conduit into the wood of the raised bed I built a couple months ago. The 3/4" schedule 20 PVC pipe slides down over the conduit.

I placed the conduit on one side and slowly bent it over to its mate. The plastic I purchased is 10' wide. The pipe is 10' long. I cut the pipe to 102 inches or 8-1/2 feet. This gives me about 18" of plastic to staple to the sides of the raised bed. I'll come up with some contraption that holds the ends down so they can be opened on warm days and to allow access.

The ribs will be left uncovered for a day or two while they adjust to their new shape. Down the center of the bed, I'm planning to place a row of 12" concrete pavers, also purchased for a steal several months ago. It'll give me a place to shuffle back and forth. The height of the ribs is just under 4', so it'll be a tight fit. The sides of the bed will be lined with plants in a couple weeks.

This bed is 4' wide and 16' long. Subtracting out 16 square feet of pavers, I have 48 sq ft of space to place containers and plants. If I concoct a shelf system, I can double or triple that.

I really like the sculptural quality of the bright white plastic against the dark browns and greens of winter.

From the bedroom where I have my coffee, I can check on it every morning without going outdoors. This becomes important on those rare snow days. The wind rarely causes any problems.

Once it's covered with plastic, it'll be a warm place to wintersow perennials during the coldest months. Those that need cold stratification will still be started in containers at the end of the driveway. Farmers Almanac recommends starting seedbeds on the 14th and 15th of this month. I'll sow rudbeckia and other hardy plants on those days. I've been collecting and saving containers all summer. I've got a trip to the Dollar store planned this week to stock up on 20 ounce styrofoam cups. In early March, the perennials will be moved out into the yard where they'll be hardy enough to survive any cold spells. Annuals and tomatoes will be placed inside after that. Once the chance of frost has passed, it'll be removed and tomatoes will be planted in this bed. I'll have to fluff and amend the soil a bit, but it worked great last year using a smaller hoophouse. The timing works out perfectly.

With 2 hours of work under my belt, I'm thinking about starting on the kitchen again. I still have 400 daffodils and 150 muscari to plant. Tomorrow is supposed to be a lot warmer, so I may hold off on these until then.

It's 45 degrees and mostly cloudy. The rain is just across the state line in SC, heading this way.

6:07pm - It started raining about 4pm. I got some more mud on the kitchen, patching areas that needed attention. I'll do some more in the morning since the rain is supposed to stay with us overnight.


Darla said...

The hoop house is fantastic!! My caterpillar did form a chrysalis..I/m not sure about the Monarchs staying in it until spring either...

L. D. said...

It almost looks like a modern sculpture in your yard. That will be nice for you to keep things going longer or starting things sooner. That wood looked great, ready to burn. It will keep dryer as well as be handier to get to when you use it.

Randy Emmitt said...

It looks pretty good! I'm thinking about building a small one for kale and chard mostly. I was thinking a 2 x 8 lumber frame with conduit clamps on the sides to hold the pipes. No room here for something so big.

Jeff Vandiver said...

Tom - I like it! However, there's no way i'd fit in there. I can't wait to see it in action.

Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

I've followed your blog for just about a year, and I don't think I've ever noticed you not having some great projects going. The hoophouse looks great.