Grow food in ALL seasons: A simple and FAST way to build rowcover and shade for your garden!

in tribesteemup •  6 months ago

Rowcovers are an amazing addition to any size garden. You can use them for so many different things! For instance, you can cover your crops and help them extend further into the fall and even winter months. You can also use them for insect protection, moisture retention, and shade from the hot sun. They really are the best and key to having a healthy and productive garden.

This year I moved my market garden to a new location outside of Arroyo Seco, NM. So on top of normal farm operations, I've been doing lots of infrastructure work, like building a greenhouse, building all the beds, building shelves and storage, fixing the tractor, fixing trucks, etc etc... you get the idea.

This year it has become hot out much faster than normal. Since the sun is so bright and UV so damaging up here at 8000 feet, I came to the realization that I needed to find a way to shade most of my garden and I needed it to happen FAST!

My new garden is about 2000 "bed feet" so far, which means... 2000 feet of 30" wide raised beds. My old garden was 500 bed feet. Last year I built hoops for my old garden out of 1/2" conduit and hammered 18" rebar into the ground to hold them in place. Check it out:

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It worked great, but this year, my issue was that I didn't have money or time to setup my hoop infrastructure for 2000' and get shade on all my plants. All the bending and hammering was just out of the question, and I don't have the budget to buy the steel right now anyway. But, I had to somehow make it happen. Necessity really is the mother of invention!

So this is my solution:

IMG_0483.jpg

Instead of using a hoop every 5 feet or so, here I am using one every 12.5 feet. A 50' bed takes 5 hoops total.I am still hammering 18" sections of rebar into the ground to hold the first and last hoops in place. Then, I am running electric fence wire the full length of the bed like so:

IMG_0482.jpg

The central hoops just stay in place from the tension, so NO HAMMERING REBAR for the central hoops, or removing it later, which is very tedious especially with our soil type here. On 100' beds I hammer rebar at the 50' mark for stability.

For shade I am using Agribon 19 row cover. It is 10' wide. That way, I can have 19% light reduction, or double it to get 38% reduction. I clip the Agribon to the wires with little clamps I bought cheap online:

IMG_0486.jpg

I didn't take a picture, but I use a small piece of duct tape to hold the upper, central wire in place across all the hoops.

And that's pretty much it! This setup was quick and cheap. Instead of EMT conduit for the hoops, you can use PVC or PEX pipe. I prefer the metal but you do need a bending jig to get the shape right (a piece of plywood with pieces of wood screwed to it to bend across works well). If you use PVC or PEX, you will have to drive rebar for all the hoops so they hold their shape.

This setup seems to hold up quite well in the wind. The tension from the fence wire holds everything down nicely. We've had some pretty damn windy days in the past week and everything has held tight. The wind is blowing strong as I type this, actually.

Another great advantage to this system is you can very easily adjust the lower wires. So you can set it up for shade, like I have in the pictures, OR, you can set it up to cover and protect the crops from wind and cold, without needing nearly as many stakes or staples in the ground. And no rocks either! It's much more efficient. I even will roll them around the work with the sun on particularly hot days.

So, because of the reduction of materials used, and the energy transfer of the wires holding tension on everything, I was able to make those 500' worth of hoops almost stretch the full 2000' of my garden! Pretty cool.

If you have a home garden or commercial market garden, I hope this technique can be of some help to you. And, if you enjoyed reading this, please upvote, resteem, or leave me a comment below!

Thanks!

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wow your garden is amazing!

In my case with started to grow some food in the backyard a few months ago, but it is all small scale to test how good we can be with it :P

The work you are doing is great mate.

Congratulations and looking forward to see more :)

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Thanks man I appreciate it! That picture was last years, this years is still in the beginning stages.. but stick with me and see how it comes out. I did an earlier post about the how amazing living worm castings are for the soil (not the ones you buy in a bag at the nursery). If you are interested you can check it out here: https://steemit.com/tribesteemup/@nickhans/science-has-recently-discovered-how-to-reverse-climate-change-using-farmland-and-simple-microbes-but-can-we-make-it-happen . For a home garden it is a great thing to get into. I don't have a step by step to get started but there are lots of guides online to raising earthworms. It's a really cool hobby and worth getting into. Thanks for the feedback...

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I checked out your garden post last night - awesome! I am sure you already know about the earthworm stuff! I wish I could grow all those tropical plants..

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Thanks for checking it mate :D

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I like your idea with the hoops and the rebar. It gets so hot here I will need to use some kind of cover when planting next years garden. It could make all the difference in the world. 🐓🐓

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I think it will make a huge difference, especially if the humidity is low. :)

This post has been featured in the @offgrid-online Weekly Curation. Taos is beautiful and surreal. I lived in Albuquerque for half a year and made it up to Santa Fe a few times, Taos once. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience with row covers.

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Thanks! I appreciate it! :)

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Albequerque is pretty intense for me.. I'm from the southeast and it's just a little too desert around there for my tastes... I've never actually hung out in Santa Fe just passed through. Taos does have a surreal feel. It's the cultures here go back generations. It's very isolated up here, strange place to move to... but there is such a good community of farmers, and a lot of demand for healthy food

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True, pretty much mainly the northern part of new mexico isn't desert. One place I did go a few times that I really enjoyed was the Jemez Hot Springs .. there's a forest park there and you hike into where the hot springs are - they have a cement hot tub / wading pool setup there at the springs. A nice day out :)

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Sweet! I have been to those springs as well.. they are really nice and less crowded than the Hondo springs. Gonna have to hit them up again someday soon. It's more swimming hole weather right now though