Gardening in a Wisconsin spring or fall can be downright frustrating. Temperatures fluctuate daily, sometimes hourly. We can go from summer like conditions to chances of frost, freezes or snow in no time; not to mention the winds, rain and hail that may accompany changing conditions. Patience with planting and even with removing protective debris is a must during this season. It is hard, however, not to take advantage of the warm days we have to do something in the garden.
One thing you can do to start your season early or extend later is to build a simple hoop house cover for new seedlings. Many vegetables thrive in cool weather as long as they are protected from harsh conditions.
Here is a guide to building a very simple hoop house for a raised garden bed:
- Dig out the soil of the four corners of your raised bed
- Install hose clamps. I used 3/4″ hose clamps for 1/2″ PEX pipe. Whatever size pipe you choose to make your hoops, go a quarter inch larger for your clamps.
- Place your PEX pipes through the hose clamps. I used 5′ sections of flexible PEX pipe (found at your local hardware store) to make hoops which were 19″ high in the center. This particular bed is 2′ wide by 8′ long. Figure out the length of your pipe needed by taking your bed width times 2 and adding an additional foot or two so that you have some extra to work with. Place a hoop every 2 feet of length (this particular bed needed 4 hoops to cover 8′).
- Place the soil firmly back around each hoop
- You may plant your seeds at this time and then put your cover material over the bed. I used Grow Guard fabric and fastened it with garden clips which are both available from most online gardening stores. Use ground staples to pin down the fabric edges into the soil. Water will pass through this fabric so once you fasten the fabric on there is no need to lift it for watering.
- In a few weeks time, you will see this: