Here’s a blog post I did last May about our method of growing tomatoes & peppers in the Pacific Northwest. It really helped warm things up a bit, and more importantly, kept rain off the tomatoes which keeps blight at bay.
Since we live in an area that gets hurricane force winds in winter, our attempt at using these year round didn’t end well. We used to have a nice metal-framed, polycarbonate-walled greenhouse, but the wind tweaked it so much we rehomed it. We’ll be building some cold-frames for winter growing, and experimenting with hot beds since we have plenty of horse manure to heat them with.
We use the mini-hoop-house method as well. Also in the PNW, planting tomatoes, peppers, eggplant. we’re using pvc because we had a lot of scrap pieces on hand. Raised beds are the way to go here, but we have found that using wood for the sides was not the best way for us. Anything but cedar rots out way too fast. Cedar has become difficult to obtain for any reasonable cost.
We has some used metal roofing on hand, 36 inch wide pieces. Folded in half, joined at the corners by screwing to bits of cedar, plastic pipe, or what ever works, they make great 18 inch deep beds. Easy and very quick to make. I think we have about 30 beds now, mostly 4 ft wide and between 8 and 12 feet long. They work great, slugs avoid climbing them, bugs don’t eat them, they are high enough to keeps most weed seeds out, easy to scrounge. Unfortunately, not pretty in winter when they are mostly empty.
We used plain old fir/hemlock 2x6s for the frames and they are holding up fine after being out in all kinds of weather. We try not to use more plastic than absolutely necessary, so we invested in sturdier conduit for our hoops. So far the cheap visqueen is the only part that needs seasonal replacement. And we reuse the scraps of that a few times before chucking it. We also don’t use the frames to make a raised bed, since all our planting areas are really great soil. They’re just to anchor the hoops. Our hens take care of most of the slugs, and we take care of the weeds.
Pretty low profile, low maintenance, easy to lift and move to new areas or into storage zones for winter.
Planting season is just getting underway here, so our hoops will be filled with tomatos & peppers soon.