Friday, October 02, 2009

Eighteen Degrees

I woke up this morning and the bedroom seemed cooler than normal which was an omen. I checked the outside thermometer. Eighteen degrees.

A few days ago the low for last night was forecast as 29 degrees. Then it changed. The low would be in the mid-thirties. I decided to take a risk.

Last week I tried to get the garden beds covered. I purchase half inch metal conduit and shaped hoops to span the beds. The conduit was ten feet long so I went in search of clear plastic twelve feet wide or wider. It wasn't to be found so I decided to wait another day and try more stores. No success. Ten feet was the widest I could find. My solution was to cut one foot from each end of the hoops to shorten them to eight feet so I could use plastic ten feet in width. Thursday night was the forecast low for the week. Since the temperature wasn't expected to drop to freezing I thought I would wait until today to work in the garden.

In hindsight I wish I had found the time to cut the conduit and cover the beds earlier in the week. I regret I didn't pick tomatoes, peppers and squash yesterday.

But, all was not lost. Salsify, parsnips, carrots and beets are standing tall.

Today I cleared the beds, cut the hoops and covered one bed. Tomorrow I'll plant a few things to over winter.

After covering the bed I used a light meter to check the light inside the plastic and was surprised. I'm not certain about the quality of the light but it's bright. Tomorrow I'm going to add some water filled bottles to supplement the stone block as heat stores and install a thermometer to monitor the temperature.

One morning this week I sprayed neem oil on rutabagas, squash and radishes to stop the spread of powdery mildew. The freezing temperature took care of that problem.

The predicted lows for the next five nights are 35, 50, 46, 38 and 41. Ahhh, what could have been but for one night of eighteen degrees.

Covered garden bed.
Covered garden bed. I shaped the hoops by bending the conduit over the large black culvert in the upper right background of the photo. Under the blue tarp is about ten yards of old horse manure. (Larger version)

Hoop for garden bed.
Hoop for garden bed. This photo was taken last weekend and shows the first hoop that I shaped and tested. (Larger version)


Blogger Alex Pendragon said...

Any reason why ordinary pvc pipe wouldn't work as well?

10/03/2009 01:50:00 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

PVC will work with two caveats. Sunlight will turn PVC brown and will decrease the impact resistance of the pipe. I considered PVC but settled on the conduit for a few reasons.

First, conduit seems more durable.

Second, I think conduit is easier to remove and reinstall. I drove one foot lengths of rebar into he ground and placed the conduit over the rebar. Since the conduit is bent to the approximate final shape I can put one end over the rebar on one side and the other side is a few inches from it's final position. With PVC the pipe would be standing vertical and I would have to bend it and put more pressure on the rebar while doing so.

Third a piece of conduit slips off the rebar then it will spring out only a few inches. The PVC will spring much farther and might be more painful.

10/03/2009 02:35:00 PM  

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