I have prepared two of my raised beds for hoop gardens. I plan to do this for my 3rd bed that doesn’t have a raised cattle panel running down the middle of it.
The beds are made out of 16′ lengths of 1×6 treated lumber. The boxes are 5′ wide. I purchased four 20′ sections of 3/8″ rebar and had one of my sons cut them into 2′ sections. I decided to put 7 hoops on each 16′ bed. I pounded the 2′ sections of rebar 1′ into the ground, leaving 1′ above ground – the height of the bed side. I used 10′ sections of gray electrical conduit to bend over the bed for the arch. Each end of the conduit covers the raised 1′ section. Hopefully this will be satisfactory to anchor the pressured ends of the conduit. I plan to tie a piece of the gray conduit along the top of the arch to keep the pipes properly spaced. I will then cover the arches with clear plastic. I need to find a thick 50′ roll of plastic. Twenty-five feet will cover each bed with enough to gather at the ends. I need a roll that is at least 12′ wide so that it will cover the 10′ arch and leave at least a foot to lay on the ground and be weighed down by old garden timbers or lengths of wood.
I still need to work the ground around these beds – putting mulch around the beds.
The winters here have been getting colder each year for a while now, so I am hoping these covered hoop beds will allow me to grow winter crops better. On the list for my winter crops are: cabbage, broccoli, spinach, lettuce – both leaf and cos, turnips, carrots, fava beans, peas and whatever else I can’t think of at the moment. Garlic doesn’t need to be protected from the freezes.
The first Purple Top heirloom turnip has been harvested. It will go into garden vegetable soup tomorrow, along with any other sizeable turnips I find tomorrow. And – yes, those are aphids on the underside of the leaves.
Here are some more turnips – I just scattered the seed last fall.
What is interesting is that only the portion of the bulb that is above ground turns purple.
Every season it seems a different pest afflicts my garden. This season, here in March, the aphids are already feasting on my plants. I first saw then on my tiny pepper seedlings in the greenhouse maybe 3 weeks ago. They have definitely stunted my peppers. I first used neem oil to try to kill the aphids, but this didn’t seem to work very well, and in fact seemed to damage some of the pepper seedlings. I have had to reseed many of them. The fix is in – this season, the peppers will be late. The seedlings should be much further along than they are, and add to that I have had to reseed. I will be comforted, however, in the knowledge that peppers grow quickly once it really warms up.
You can also see some tomato seedlings. They weren’t damaged like the pepper seedlings were. In the bags, I am trying to start fig trees from cuttings. This year I am putting them into lunch bags of moist peat, using rooting hormone. Last year I tried to root cuttings in perilite – that didn’t work out
Here are aphids under a turnip leaf. Those aphids are EVERYWHERE, in the greenhouse and out!!
Last year, the worst offending pests were squash vine borers and spider mites. The year before it was squash bugs.
I let several purple top turnips go to seed last year. I got at least 4 ounces, a quarter cup, of seeds – not counting the seeds that pop and land all over the place.
This being said, this fall I generously scattered turnip seeds all over empty areas of the garden. I did this near the end of last year. It took the seedlings a while to establish. They are finally taking off.
And some more:
I suppose I should thin some of them. I will eat my turnip root/bulb, but I refuse to eat the greens – that is asking too much. Besides, the compost pile wants them. The greens must taste good, however, because they are full of bug holes and none of those weeds ever have any bug damage.
I like to toss a few cut up turnips in my garden vegetable soup. I have also boiled and mashed turnips. Not bad at all. In fact, they are really good when served with pride of growing them yourself!!