Friday, June 3, 2011


Last year was our first big foray into serious vegetable gardening.  I think we were successful given the limitations of our weather.  But, we did lose a LOT of tomatoes to blight once the rain began to plague us in the fall.  Rain doesn't usually bother me...I am truly acclimatized.  But I did mourn all those beautiful tomatoes that just turned from green to black.  It's fortunate that our winter survival didn't depend on them.  It would have been a complete disaster.  It's easy to see how unusual weather can cause starvation for families dependent on their kitchen gardens. 

Rebar stakes go in first -  thanks to Steve for cutting and supply.

So, the discussions started taking place about how we would protect them this year.  My daughter built her tomato tunnel first - once the seedlings are ready for the outdoors, those coverings have to be ready.  When we arrived home from the road trip, we discovered that our tomato seedlings would be delivered by the weekend.  Time to swing into action.

One hoop done - gettin' the hang of it now.

Anne had already researched ways to build what everyone seems to be calling "hoop houses".  Of course, everyone wants to build theirs in the least expensive way as well as the easiest.  Some hoops are easier to make than others.  She had also discussed ways and means with Steve who knows this stuff - and who has nifty tools to share.

This tool cuts the PVC tubing - cool, huh?

These photos are of the stages of building our mini-greenhouse which should protect the wee plants from the crappy cool weather as well as keep them dry and, we hope, blight-free.  It does mean that we can't count on the copious amounts of water sent by Mother Nature for irrigation.  Kind of stupid, really, but even more stupid to plant the veg and lose it to the rain. We had a tiny soaker hoses last year - they'll be a necessity this summer. 

Add wheels for a covered wagon.
Attach a plastic cover and voila! Happy tomato plants!

I am not a DIY-er in quite the same way.  Rather than buy materials (except yarn, of course) I'm more a what-can-I-find-in-the-recycling kind of person.  It gives me huge satisfaction to re-purpose things.  It was sunny when I planted my little basil seedlings.  But summer disappears quick here and they absolutely need the warmth of lovely sunny days.  From experience I've learned how terribly unhappy they are in the rain.  This year, I am determined to have huge, bushy basil plants - nay, trees! - with healthy green leaves for cooking.  After everything was planted out, the gray clouds began to gather.  Oh, dear!  I'd better get that basil under cover.  Rummaging in the recycling box produced a large plastic clamshell.  Perfect!

And after a week of sunny periods mixed with hours of rain, my basil is dry and warm but still gets air and water.  Winner!  The sun is supposed to come out for real this weekend.  Maybe we can roll up the sides of the wagons and take off the clamshell?  Fingers crossed.


Ginny said...

You did a wonderful job, it is really nice. Now, will you have to tromp in there with a watering can? What will you do about water? Will you just squirt the hose in from time to time?

deb said...

Looks great! They look very cozy in their house. Is it your idea to take the cover off for the summer & put it back on when the weather becomes more fall like?

Rudee said...

I like the covered wagon style solution. Very clever. I'll see how you do and perhaps give it a go. After the deluge of rain last week, it struck me as odd having to give my plants a drink yesterday.

Stephanie V said...

Ginny - I've edited to explain the watering system.

Deb - We won't take the covers off entirely - just roll up the sides on good days. See how hopeful I am?

Paws on the Run said...

Love your homemade greenhouse. Looks awesome!

EmptyNester said...

Ooooh- it's like a little greenhouse, kind of. I like it! We have drip irrigation and rain barrels this year and it has made all the difference for us! We have such high heat and humidity that we have to be careful about getting water on the leaves of our plants.

Excellent idea!

Cindy of PEI said...

For being so far away I think we share the same weather each day. I have not used these hoops before but they sure look like they would do the trick, keeping the plants warm is a given. I'm always looking for ways to re-use and re-cycle I had my best ever with a pair of flip flops you should come and see this will make you laugh,

Anonymous said...

Remember all those soaker hoses you got for me a few years ago. If you need one or two of them, feel free. I haven't put them all into use!

Theres just life said...

Looks great, kind like a covered wagon. I'm sure your tomatoes will love it.

Pamela Jo

Angie said...

Fingers crossed toms & basil make some good salads!

Bossy Betty said...

Great job!! I can taste the goodies now....


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