Today the weather was not what one would expect from February and it gave me the desire to be outside and even work in the garden. I am always trying to push the limits when it comes to planting our garden and I am often met with failure. My father always told me to just wait until the first of May and it would be alright. Well that does work but I have a hard time waiting that long and that also limits the productivity of my garden to some extent. A greenhouse would be nice to extend the growing season and provide a place to hang out in the winter but right now I do not have the time or resources necessary to take that project on. So the solution to my problem is to build a mini greenhouse.
I have seen all sorts of articles about doing this and they all try to take a slightly different angle on it. Really the concept is simple and that will be my angle. First off, this little plastic covered hoop structure is not intended to grow tomatoes or other heat loving plants. Its only purpose is to get a few weeks head start on the planting of cool weather crops. It could also be used to harden off some of the plants that you start inside if you choose. I like simple and easy so for this project to work for me it will need to be both. There are all sorts of various modifications that can be done with this type of structure but I am only going to attempt the most basic of designs today.
First I started with some ½ PVC pipe from the hardware store. I stuck it in the ground 6 inches and set the other end 4 foot away and stuck it in the ground 6 inches. I repeated the process at 2 foot intervals until I had a 12 foot row of hoops. I then raked back the mulch that I had covering my garden to expose the soil, removed the weeds, and loosened the soil with a stirrup hoe. A garden rake was then used to smooth the soil and break up the larger clumps of dirt.
The seeds were planted in a broadcast fashion. I did not spend time making rows or spacing the seeds perfectly. Once the seeds sprout I will run the garden rake thought the plot just one time and this will provide an adequate thinning for these plants. I decided to plant beets, turnips, various lettuce, carrots, and spinach. I left the last 4 foot unplanted so that I can do some succession planting in a week or two so that that we will have new crops coming up as the season progress. Once the seeds were in place I used the hoe to gently tamp the seeds into the soil.
Once the seeds were all taken care of, I draped a piece of clear plastic sheeting over the entire structure. The plastic is 10 ft. by 25 foot so it will be adequate in covering the remaing 9 foot of exposed PVC with a little extra to secure it from blowing away. Once it was trimmed to length I place some old pieces of scrap lumber around the edges. Not the most decorative of methods of securement but it is functional. The plastic needs to be easily removable so that on warm days the structure can be vented. One thing I will do to help with the venting is to use some large office type clips to hold the plastic on the ends back when it sun is really shinning and the temperature gets a little warm in the hoop. That is it!
Management of the mini green house will be a learning experience for me but I am looking forward to the fresh vegies that this little structure will produce. I hope that I will have some success with the mini greenhouse but if not it was a great way to spend a beautiful day in the garden with my son and teach him a little bit about gardening. That actually makes it all worth it.