In this week's Patchwork column, Barbara Ganley writes about lengthening the growing season of her vegetables. Bill Roper's accompanying recipe won't get you any edible results, but with any luck it will help you get more edibles from of your garden.
You can probably imagine the weekends I’ve had as Barbara’s infrastructure partner this summer! Luckily I enjoy the outdoors and the nonstop construction projects, and I sure have eaten well.
Here’s my approach to hastening the spring and prolonging the summer (although I am dubious about Barbara’s forecast of harvesting tomatillos in December). Eliot Coleman’s book, “Four Season Harvest,” inspired me to use electric conduit for hoop houses. I’ve added my own secret to this simple recipe for a longer season.
Directions (assuming your garden bed is 8 feet wide):
For hoops that are 3 feet tall at the center (typically all you need for the spring):
Cut the 1-inch conduit into one-foot lengths with one end cut at a diagonal to make it easier to pound into the ground. These will be the sleeves into which you slip the half-inch conduit (my secret).
Pound one-foot long sleeves into the ground every 2 feet along both sides of your garden bed.
Cut off the female end of the half-inch conduit and then slip into sleeves so the hoops run perpendicular to your garden bed.
Pull the fabric paper over the hoops and clamp it to the conduit being careful not to tear.
It’s that easy.
For the fall, when you need more height to cover your mature plants, you’ll have to buy some additional 10-foot, half-inch conduit and cut into 5-foot lengths, leaving the female end on this time. Join the 5-foot length to your existing 10-foot length and when you insert this longer piece into the sleeves, you’ll achieve 5 feet of height (you may need to adjust full length of conduit to make sure the fabric paper can cover the new span). Consider changing to a heavier weight garden cover. The remaining 5-foot lengths of conduit will come in handy as posts for lightweight rabbit fencing next year.
Where to Find the Goods
Conduit: rk Miles, Aubuchon, Martin’s, Valley Electric
Garden Fabric: Gardener’s Supply