One of the ways we can eat healthier food that doesn’t harm the environment is by growing our own fruits and vegetables. My dear friend Carol is a real inspiration in that department.
Carol, who lives in Arlington, VA, has transformed her backyard into a beautiful oasis brimming with gorgeous flowers and a wonderful variety of edible plants, all of which she grows using no toxic chemicals.
Normally, in our part of the world (mid-Atlantic), the growing season ends right about now – late October/early November. Carol decided to build a “hoop house” to protect some vegetables from frost and extend her growing season by a couple of months. (She finished it just in time for Food Day!)
When I asked her about it, here’s what she said:
(Diane) You’re an avid gardener! Your flower beds are gorgeous, and you already grow an abundance of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and other vegetables. Given how much time you put in during spring and summer, I’d think you’d want a rest come fall! (Carol) I LOVE to garden. It was Becky’s idea (Carol’s daughter) to keep me happy in the late fall and early spring – plus the heat, mosquitoes, and gnats are better when it’s cooler outside!
So why did you decide to build a hoop house, which some people also call a cold frame? It’s supposed to extend the growing season by about two months – one at each end.
How did you figure out what materials you would need and how big to make it? I searched hoop houses on the Internet, watched several videos, and decided to start with a small hoop. This was my favorite on how to build a hoop house and raised bed.
Did you actually construct it all yourself? Yes, it was a challenge – having grown up at a time when girls took home ec and boys took shop. But I did OK. Home Depot cut one of the three pieces of 8 foot lumber in half at no charge, so I could have two pieces 8 feet long and two 4 feet long for the raised bed. Home Depot also sold 10 foot pvc pipes, which they cut into 8 foot sections for free. I bought the plastic in a roll there, too, as well as the screws. I bought the screws (wood screws and screws with wing nuts) too short, but I was able to walk to the hardware store and get what I needed – including a special drill bit so I didn’t have to screw them in by hand.
Building the raised bed was by far the hardest part of the job. I had to drill 28 holes, then re-drill them because the holes were too small. Then I had to go to the hardware store twice for the right screws.
Wow! That’s so impressive! What will you be planting in it? I am hoping to have a month or two more of cold weather crops: lettuce, arugula, kale, Swiss chard. I want to pick up some spinach seedlings at the farmers market this weekend to put in there, too.
Plus, I moved some warm weather plants – basil, dill, cilantro – to protect them. Otherwise, they’ll die in a week or so from the cold weather.
Great! I can’t wait for my next dinner invitation!