View Full Version : Hoop covers

04-23-2009, 11:35 PM
I made a cover for one of my 4x8 raised beds out of pvc "pex" (or something like that) because my father decided that it would be better than other pvc pipes. I had my doubts about it because it is so flexible and I was right, it is sinking down at the ends. If you've made covers what sort of pvc pipes did you use and what size? When we were shopping for the pipe we tried bending some pvc pipes and we couldn't make them bend very far. Does anyone have any suggestions?

04-24-2009, 10:18 AM
I use 10 foot sticks of 1/2" electricians PVC conduit pipe. I cut the connector end off. I then insert the pipe into 3/4" metal conduit that is cut into 18" lengths - pounded into the ground until flush with the edge of the boxed edges of the bed, and then bolted to the bed framing. The pvc is then anchored into the brackets which keeps them secure. I like the electricians conduit because it has a UV stabilizer in it which makes them last even though exposed to sun, and the pvc is reasonably stiff so it is a stout support structure. Here's an (older) picture of my set up to give you a better idea of what I am talking about.

Ignore my cat and look at the beds behind him! You can see the metal pipe brackets and the PVC Hoops (have netting on them in this summer garden picture).


04-24-2009, 12:39 PM
Thanks for posting your photo of the PVC piping. I am looking at adding this to my garden this year.

Are you using wire for trellis or netting to keep thing out?

04-24-2009, 12:49 PM
Your garden looks amazing! What is your cat's name?

04-24-2009, 01:43 PM
Lovely garden and adorable kitty.. Although I have to admit that the kitty caught my eye first.. = )

04-24-2009, 02:56 PM
I used 10 foot PVC (cheapest I could find) to span my beds. I anchored 1/4 inch larger pieces with brackets to my beds.

I like the idea of the UV protection though. I will look into it when these give up the ghost.

04-24-2009, 10:18 PM
I posted pictures and directions on my blog. I use the pvc pipe which was $1.24 per 10 ft piece for the 1/2" and $1.58 for the 3/4" so the cost was minimal. It is working great. The last link shows how it looked just a couple days ago full of spring vegetables. Kim




04-24-2009, 11:54 PM
goplayallie - the netting is primarily to keep my dog (who shares the back fenced in area with the garden) from tromping through the beds. This picture was from the 2007 garden season and I actually ended up with the netting also serving as a trellis (by accident) because I was growing some navy, pinto, and kidney beans and I found out that pintos are "half runner" beans and want to climb! If you look at the picture back behind my kitty but in that same bed - the beans are running up the netting. It was kind of a pain to harvest them and care for the bed once that happened - but it all worked out fine. Got a good harvest of pintos and kidney's from a fairly small patch. I would not purposefully do that again though - as it made garden maintenance a pain for that section.

gardengirl72 - the cat is "Sid". He is my garden companion and one of those really great souls that crosses into your life once in a while.

04-29-2009, 11:53 AM
that is a fine looking garden. Thanks for posting photos.

04-29-2009, 12:05 PM
does anyone have any information on how much protection hoop houses provide? I am curious about how much warmth the protection provides - one degree, two degrees, etc.

04-30-2009, 01:01 AM
My hoop covers don't seem to do well with cold. I had hoped for better.

I put a thermometer inside my bed and outside. When the winter temps got down into the teens, so did my bed. Needless to say I was very disappointed. Not only does it drop to within a degree of outside, but the sun creates an oven in there even when it's 60 outside. I read 108 one day, wilted my lettuce. Grrr. I had really hoped for better.

04-30-2009, 09:22 PM
I have a theory about cold frames and hoop covers after working with them this year. It seems they work by catching the heat that's rising from the ground so I think they work better if the lids are close to the plants. Now that doesn't work really well with the hoops but I had better luck when I put some frost proofing (reemay style) on the plants and let the plastic over the hoops.

I also noticed that if the soil got really cold then the cold frame and the hoops didn't work really well. I think when that happens you need to put milk jugs of hot water in with the plants to add more heat. I tried that one cold night and it seemed to help.

Unfortunately I also found out that the mornings are cold for a long time. That makes it tough to open the cold frame or hoops if you work. They make automatic openers for cold frames but that won't work for the hoops. I saw a solution that one guy used. He made and end out of plywood to the hoop and inserted a vent in it. That vent would open at a certain temp so air could get in. I think you can get those vents at Home Depot. I haven't tried that method but I think I will this winter.

Also I plan to get some garden blankets to use in the winter. I want to have lettuce all winter and I think some fleece blankets with the frost proofing will let me. I just need to remember to leave room for the milk jugs when I plant.

Next year I'll have more info so stay tuned.

05-01-2009, 10:29 AM
I have been using grow tunnels and an unheated greenhouse for some time now. The grow tunnels will not create a winter "growing" climate - you need a heated greenhouse and probably grow lights too for that. It will however protect the plants from heavy rains, cold/drying winds, and hard frosts. During the day time hours it will capture the weak winter sun and provide some passive solar heating, but it will quickly dissipate at night and be close to the outdoor ambient temperature. The value of them during the winter is those protective qualities I just described. If you have grown a crop to harvestable stage and then protect it for overwintering - you are just giving the plant enough protection to keep it alive until you harvest from it. You have to grow enough going into the winter that as you harvest it down you have more available - because they will not regrow in winter - not enough sun strength or warmth available for actual growth beyond some very minimal root development etc.

They increase in value in early spring. With increased solar strength you can use them to warm up the soil as well as protect your early/young plants. The tunnels will get very warm if they have direct sun exposure with increasing solar strength and you will need to open the ends during warm spring days to keep from cooking your plants. If you close them up before the sun goes down you can trap some of the heat and slow the cooling down. Often this makes the difference between a freeze situation or not. The added protection from wind and driving rain/hail is also important.

Currently, I only have one bed that has a grow tunnel cover and that is the tomato bed. There is red plastic mulch laid down under the tomatoes and it grabs and holds heat at the soil level in combination with the plastic sheeting heating up the air inside the chamber. Together the tomatoes get a huge jump on the season because of the warmth and protection. It is tropically warm inside of there during the daylight hours and a close to ten degrees warmer inside during the night because the soil and mulch acts as a heat sink - releasing the warmth gradually as the evening progresses.

They are not a "install and walk away" affair though. If you have them up - you have to tend to them to ensure they ventilation is proper for the solar conditions of the day. Dark/cloudy/rainy - leave them buttoned up. Sunny and bright - open up in the morning and button up in the evening.

05-01-2009, 11:08 AM
Wow *cough* that folks was either what Elliot Colman didn't tell you or a brief synopsis of Four Season Harvest. I'm not sure.

What I do know is that KitsapFG just confirmed and firmed up all the theories I've been working on since last Fall.

And drat, I forgot to vent my hoop cover hehe.