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Overwinter Gardening

Shaker Woods Farm at Point Comfort

2010-5-17 Ladyslippers blooming
     

Overwinter Gardening

We overwinter lettuce, spinach, kale, etc. under a cattle panel bent over to make hoop.

We bend a cattle panel width wise to fit an 18 inch wide raised bed (see picture). It is self supporting and can be lifted on and off the bed. This is a full 16 foot long cattle panel bent widthwise. My wife and I placed a 12 foot 2x6 on one side of the panel, stood on it, grasped the other side and bent it toward us--slowly so we could make a smooth arch and didn't "kink" it. We had to work back and forth along the 16 foot length. We used a couple of 2 foot ropes with hooks in each end to hold it so it didn't spring back as we continued to bend it toward us. Having another person or two would have made it go quicker, but we did it ourselves by taking our time.

We also bend 8 foot sections lengthwise to fit a 3 foot wide raised bed--the panel is inserted inside the raised bed sides.

We cover these hoops with 6 mil plastic. We roll the edge of the plastic around a pvc pipe and use a "collar" made from a 4 inch piece of 1 inch black plastic water pipe, split lengthwise, to secure the plastic on the pvc pipe. I place a few stones or metal fence posts on the plastic to keep the wind from gettng under it. The cattle panel supports the plastic even when completely covered with snow.

With the gravel paths around our raised beds, we can get an early start on setting out plants as well as over wintering. This picture was taken on 30 May 2008 and shows red sail lettuce and spinach that we overwintered from the fall of 2007.

We also use cattle panels to make trellises for beans and tomatoes. We can move them from bed to bed as we rotate crops. You can plant lettuce behind the tomatoes so the lettuce has shade part of the day.

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