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Old July 15, 2012   #1
Riceloft
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Default Raised bed - questions about hoop/row covers

I'm looking into building a few raised beds for next season. I found these plans and am going to follow them pretty closely. http://www.sunset.com/garden/perfect...0400000039550/

The design includes PVC for creating hoops, but I have some questions about that.

1) I can't imagine the PVC stays by itself during high winds. What can I use to secure it?

2) What sort of fabric should I be using for the row covers? I've found numerous sites selling various types of row cover fabric, but what is best bang for your buck?

3) Should I anchor the fabric to the ground as well as getting the clips to attach it to the PVC?

Thanks!
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Old July 16, 2012   #2
habitat_gardener
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...1) I can't imagine the PVC stays by itself during high winds. What can I use to secure it?

2) What sort of fabric should I be using for the row covers? I've found numerous sites selling various types of row cover fabric, but what is best bang for your buck?

3) Should I anchor the fabric to the ground as well as getting the clips to attach it to the PVC?...
1. I haven't done this myself, but someone else at the community garden pounds some rebar into the ground, and the tubing fits over the rebar like a sleeve. The rebar needs to be pounded in as far as necessary to make it stable, and if you will be using the raised bed without the tubing, the rebar should not stick up high enough to be hazardous without a sleeve. For my soil, I'd pound a foot into the ground and leave a foot above. Do some trials to find how much is needed to secure the tubing for the desired span at the height you want. The local hardware store where I buy 20 ft. rebar will cut it for me -- if you have a place like this, figure out beforehand what lengths of rebar you'll need.

2. The type of row cover depends on what season you'll be using it and why. The heavy duty row cover is for cool season; lightweight row cover is for warmer temps. Or you can use plastic (and be there often to open and close) for a minigreenhouse, or shade cloth. Avoid the cheap row cover -- it shreds in the wind. I've also used old sheets, tulle from the fabric store, old lace tablecloths from the thrift shop, bubble wrap, and window screening to protect plants from bugs, birds, wind, sun, rain, or cold.

3. Again, depends on why you're using it. To protect young seedlings from birds or bugs, yes, I use extra rebar/stakes or rocks to secure the edges. If I want to get into the area easily, I lay a stake horizontally along one long edge of the row cover, and weight the edges and middle with rocks. Or you can just tuck the edges under the soil, but I find it's not practical to do this if I need to get inside often. I use clothespins (wood or plastic or metal) to secure my row cover.
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Old July 16, 2012   #3
janezee
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Riceloft, congratulations on your decision to build raised beds. I've loved mine so much, I'm quadrupling my growing space over the next year from what I started with last year.

If you have high winds, I'd be cautious about pvc. It does tend to lift off the rebar if your plastic is well attached and the pvc isn't. You certainly have to anchor the plastic well in wind. If you're using permeable cover, like netting or voile, not so much of a problem. I've seen the FRC (floating row cover) really whip around in the breezes we have here. Some use wire pins to hold it down.

Pvc will deteriorate the plastic coverings, so you might want to paint it. Light deteriorates pvc, too, so another good reason to paint it.

Using the clamps to attach the pvc to the sides of the bed give you some added insurance against the wind. I'd use two for each end if I wasn't using rebar.

I made my beds from fir/pine 2"x8" without the 4x4's, but used bolts instead. I think they're doing really well, especially considering the amount of rain we get here.

We don't have voles or groundhogs here, so I didn't use the hardware cloth, but laid my beds directly on the ground. I filled them with a mix of mushroom compost, peat moss, and perlite. I can't believe what a great garden I had last year! If you click on my name, it takes you to where the pictures are. My hoops will be shown soon, but I'm not finished, and I try to only post neat photos.

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Old July 16, 2012   #4
Riceloft
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Thanks to both of you for the feedback.

I plan on using the covers to get an early start in the spring and keep my fall crops alive longer in the fall. Mostly for things like Onions and Lettuce, or to get an early start on my tomatoes/peppers when they're small.

The plans above show a 1" PVC attached to the bed itself, and then the 1/2" PVC bent and fit into the 1". Nothing else securing it. Here is the pic from their site:



What other suggestions do you guys have to putting covers on this type of bed?
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Old July 16, 2012   #5
meadowyck
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Riceloft

I think you might not be seeing the holders at ground level that the pvc is in.

When I had my small greenhouse up (lived down the road from you in Sagamore Hills) I used metal brackets, home depot, to hold my pole.

Then used a gosh right off the top of my head I can't remember the gage of the plastic, as I would start tomatoes in January and then move to the greenhouse in March.
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Old July 16, 2012   #6
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I use only the pvc to hold itself in place. Instead of using the regular pvc go to the electrical portion of the store and get the 10' conduit pvc that is a light gray. It is slightly more flexible and far less likely to shatter or break and it is cheaper. Since I use the 10 ft wide plastic I only cut off the female end leaving me with nearly a 10' section. I then push one end deeply into the ground right next to the side board and then bend it over and push the other end into the soil on the other side (make sure you do this on the inside of the bed). Since the soil is soft they will go in about a foot and that is plenty to withstand even harsh winds if the plastic is well attached. I use 3/8 inch staples to attach the plastic along the side of the bed; making sure to at least double fold the plastic along the edges for better tear resistance. One side I staple frequently as the permanent side and then lightly staple the other side. When I need to remove it I just give it a pull on the lightly stapled side to release it and fold it over onto the ground on the other side. When I need it I just fold it back over the hoops that I place about every 4 ft. I make sure I leave enough on each end to close it up if it is very cold or windy. I can just open the ends by folding the plastic back to allow air flow on moderate days and close them back in the evening. I have been doing this for years with no problems and using the long 10 ft pieces on my 4 ft wide beds and using the wide plastic allows for the hoops to be high enough to give me a large air pocket which really protects the plants better on really cold nights. I used to use much smaller hoops and on extremely cold nights would have some damage.
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Old July 16, 2012   #7
Riceloft
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Originally Posted by b54red View Post
I use only the pvc to hold itself in place. Instead of using the regular pvc go to the electrical portion of the store and get the 10' conduit pvc that is a light gray. It is slightly more flexible and far less likely to shatter or break and it is cheaper. Since I use the 10 ft wide plastic I only cut off the female end leaving me with nearly a 10' section. I then push one end deeply into the ground right next to the side board and then bend it over and push the other end into the soil on the other side (make sure you do this on the inside of the bed). Since the soil is soft they will go in about a foot and that is plenty to withstand even harsh winds if the plastic is well attached. I use 3/8 inch staples to attach the plastic along the side of the bed; making sure to at least double fold the plastic along the edges for better tear resistance. One side I staple frequently as the permanent side and then lightly staple the other side. When I need to remove it I just give it a pull on the lightly stapled side to release it and fold it over onto the ground on the other side. When I need it I just fold it back over the hoops that I place about every 4 ft. I make sure I leave enough on each end to close it up if it is very cold or windy. I can just open the ends by folding the plastic back to allow air flow on moderate days and close them back in the evening. I have been doing this for years with no problems and using the long 10 ft pieces on my 4 ft wide beds and using the wide plastic allows for the hoops to be high enough to give me a large air pocket which really protects the plants better on really cold nights. I used to use much smaller hoops and on extremely cold nights would have some damage.
There's the simple/cheap answer I was looking for! Use the 10ft pieces of PVC (and I was already looking at the grey "electrical" ones!) and shove them into the ground! Win.


Now, as far as the material to use, and whether to anchor it to the ground, or just use the clips... I'd like a recommendation or 2 for material. Links to buy would be nice as well! I don't ask for much, right?
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Old July 18, 2012   #8
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Those hoops would be a lot more secure with a purlin.

In this diagram, item "B" is the uppermost purlin. It's normal with any quonset structure. It's just a pipe running long-ways. You can buy white duct tape to attach the purlin pipe. Put the purlin on the inside of the hoops.



Building it is the easy part, keeping it from cooking in the hot sun is the hard part. If you want to splurge, you could incorporate a solar-opener, but I think you'd have to use a rigid covering material like the clear polycarbonate sheeting. The openers are not that expensive, but those poly sheets are.
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Old July 18, 2012   #9
george sr
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I've built 21 4x8 raised beds using this design.
http://extension.oregonstate.edu/cat...c/ec1627-e.pdf
I used 2 rows of 2x6 instead of the 2x12
I'm converting one to a SIP by removing the soil and laying down plastic to create a resevoir and installing 4" perforated drain pipe.
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Old July 18, 2012   #10
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If a person is inclined to do so.
You can get a heat gun and close off both ends of the PVC.
Take the heat gun and slowly heat up the entire length of the pipe until it is flexible.
Be careful not to blister the pipe and dont get in a hurry.

Then bend the pipe to the desired radius and let cool.
In this way there is no stress on the pipe and less stress on you when putting the pipe in place.

The reason for closing off the ends is to keep the pipe from collapsing.

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Old July 18, 2012   #11
Riceloft
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Thanks for all the suggestions. I have a ton of decisions to make now!

Still looking for some suggestions as far as the material for the covers. I've looked at the "Argibon" that johnnyseed sells and "GrowCover" from veggiecare.com. Does anyone have any experience with either product?
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Old July 18, 2012   #12
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I have used pvc to make a frame for covers for years. I buy the galvanized pipe holders and screw them to the sides of my beds with two screws. The pvc's springy nature puts tension on the clamps and they do not lift out in a wind.

Since I discovered hoop loops, I rarely use the PVC tubes any more. They are much easier to put in and their cost is about the same. http://www.farmtek.com/farm/supplies...nnels;pg110239
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Old July 26, 2012   #13
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Now I'm looking at some local options for filling my beds. http://www.smithbrosmulch.com/ appears to have the best combination of available products, cost per product and delivery cost.

This is what they carry that I'd be interested in:

Leaf Humus
Sweet Peet
Mushroom Compost
Topsoil (description says its blended with leaf humus, I assume not much)
"Sweet" Soil (description says its blended with several ingredients, including sweet peet)

I was thinking of a mix of Leaf Humus, Mushroom Compost and Topsoil. Maybe a 3:2:3 ratio. Thoughts?
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Old December 6, 2012   #14
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I'm a year late on this post, but I used pvc hoops on some of my raised beds. I like the rebar idea. I used that method on my first hardening hoophouse http://imageshack.us/a/img215/1905/rebarassem.jpg . I drilled 7/8" diameter holes in the top of the sides of my beds, inserted the pvc tubing, then drilled in from the side and used a nail to secure it from pulling out http://imageshack.us/a/img805/3019/hoopedbed.jpg . I used 10' long 1/2" PVC pipe for my 30" wide beds, and it was good height for peppers and taller veggies http://img29.imageshack.us/img29/9866/hoopsp.jpg .

A word of Warning.... If you use Greenhouse Film with UV coating, you must paint the PVC with a latex paint. The PVC will react with the UV chemicals and the Film will become brittle and disintegrate within the first season. I use mine during April and October to prevent frost damage and gain a few weeks of growing season.

As far as filling beds, I make up a homebrew similar to Mel's mix and mix it 50% with pure compost. Each year I add 4" of height to my beds and then mix in 4" compost http://imageshack.us/a/img801/6600/162af.jpg .
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Old December 7, 2012   #15
Riceloft
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Thanks for the tips, Hotwired. I still haven't made most of my purchases so thank you!
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