Sunday, March 21, 2010

Beautiful First Day of Spring

We embrace the first day of Spring like a long lost friend. Temperatures reached 70˚F by midday on Saturday. It felt so strange to be outside in short sleeves.

I began by replacing the nylon netting on two of the SFGs:

The old netting turned brittle from exposure to the elements and easily snapped with little pressure. I surely don’t want to chance growing tomatoes on netting that may fail mid-season. Last year I had difficulty finding nylon netting in my area and ended up ordering it online. This year I had no trouble at all finding it in several big box stores among their seedling displays:

Although tempted by this warm stretch of weather we have been experiencing, I reluctantly decided not to plant some peas along the trellis right now. It is really too early and our nights are still below freezing. I am going to wait a few more weeks at least.

I also added two 10 foot pvc conduit over the SFG that contains the overwintered spinach and will house new spring transplants soon:

This dome method described in Mel Bartholomew’s All New Square Foot Gardening seemed to be the simplest solution to providing frost and cold protection to the spring plantings. There was no cutting, trimming, or tools necessary. Simply push the end of the pvc conduit in the corner of the SFG and bend across the garden to the opposite corner:

The SFGs frames hold the ends of the pvc conduit in place. And a couple zip ties hold them together at the top of the arch:

I can easily place plastic over these supports and clamp it directly to the SFG frame. Then lift the covering on warm days to let in air. On extra cold nights, I can also drape a blanket over the bed to provide added frost protection.

I also see I will need to get a fence up soon as Bradie has been walking in my SFG:

The air cooled as the afternoon progressed and soon temperatures returned to more normal levels for this time of year. It was nice while it lasted.


  1. Happy Spring!
    Enjoy the nice weather while it lasts. Your SF garden looks nice.
    I planted some peas in 3 large containers and cover them up at night (or snow) with floating cover, they seem happy and are growing steadily despite occasional hail and snow.
    We're getting 2 days of low 60s, then goes down for 2-3 days, then back up to the 60s again, ARRRRRRGHHHHHH~~~~it's SPRING!

  2. The dome cover is definitely the quickest and easiest way to protect things in early spring. Don't ya just hate it when the dog walks through the bed? hehe...

  3. Thanks for sharing the dome cover technique. I never knew it could be so easy! I think I'm going to make two for my raised beds to hold shade cloth... Thanks!

  4. So I take it nylon netting only lasts one season ? The dome set up is really simple and practical. Perfect ! I like your clamps. They don't look like my regular quick-grips. Are they special purpose ?

  5. Looking good Rach, I'm glad you got to make the most out of the nice weather.

    Question - did you use 2x6's or 2x8's to frame your beds? I need to construct some more soon and the 2x4s I used last year just doesn't seem to be cutting it.

  6. The crossed hoops make a great support for a 4 square bed. It is always such a help to have options for covering the bed so you can get a jump on the season.

  7. Looking really good. I just put up my hoop house this weekend also - but I've had the toughest time finding clips the right size - 3/4 inch ... where did you find your clips? Can't wait to see the beds once you get them planted!!!

  8. I use a criss cross support (9 gauge wire) for anything that I wan to be tall. It really keeps it more stable. I'm sure your plastic ones are even more stable than that.

    I trained my late dog not to step in the garden beds and she was pretty good at it, but the garden is fenced and she wasn't allowed in unless I was there. I couldn't imagine I could have trained her to do that if I weren't there all the time. When she chased the bees (a favorite pastime) I would always warn her about keeping off. If I weren't there, I'm sure it would have been trampled. Though she would have been contrite about it afterward.

  9. Oh, those little footprints! Most everyone here is well-trained, although I have to discourage leapers across long beds.
    Good for you showing such pea restraint!

  10. Mac: Spring always reminds me of this Mark Twain quote,“In the Spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours.”

    EG: I think the dome will serve it’s purpose as long as I keep the ends tucked in so the wind doesn’t rip it off. Yeah, Bradie just walks through the garden like it was nothing. It’s a good thing I love her.

    Momma_S: The dome cover is really easy. I used the grey electrical conduit as it seemed more “bendy.”

    Miss M: I expected the netting to last “several seasons” as indicated on the package, but I did leave it up all winter. It snapped really easily when I was spreading out the compost and I just didn’t want to take the chance. The clips are actually muslin clamps or pro clamps. They area used in photography to hold up backdrops. I had these on hand, but you can get them on ebay or amazon. I they would be perfect as they are strong and have a rubber pad that protects the plastic covering from tears. We will see how they hold up.

    Thomas: Thanks, yes it was nice to get the beds cleaned up during the nice weather. I used 2x6 boards for my frames for the SFGs, but 2x8s would be more ideal. The regular in ground garden is framed by 2x4s, but these need to be replaced in a couple of years as they deteriorate quickly.

    KitsapFG: The crossed hoops looked perfect for a 4x4 bed as it adds support in the middle. If the bed were longer, I would have used hoops.

    Kiwi Gnomes: I too had difficulty finding shopping for clamps. The ones in the hardware stores were either too large or too small. I just happened to have these muslin clamps or pro clamps on hand. They area used in photography to hold up backdrops.

    Daphne: I have to fence out Bradie soon. Not only does she walk through the beds like they weren’t even there, but she loves veggies and would probably graze through the garden until there was nothing left to harvest. Yes, it is best to fence the garden in.

    Stefaneener: I haven’t tried to train Bradie to keep off the gardens. We usually surround the garden with a, a short, 2-ft fence and it seems to keep her out. She doesn’t even attempt to jump it which she could easily do.