All who are interested in extending your growing season – particularly with vertical plants – may want to use Mini-Greenhouses in the early spring, and simple, inexpensive In-The-Garden Greenhouses in the fall.
You can plant 4-6 weeks earlier in the Spring, and harvest 4-6 weeks later in the fall if you do it properly. For pictures, visit the Photos page on the Group website at the Yahoo Groups Mittleider Gardening Group – the URL is listed at the bottom of this article. Look at the Mini-Greenhouses, which are bent PVC pipes or wire, covered with greenhouse plastic, for the solution in early spring. And look at the Covered T-Frames for protecting mature crops in the late fall.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the simple and highly effective sustainable, intensive gardening methods taught and demonstrated world-wide by Dr. Jacob R. Mittleider, I recommend you visit the Food For Everyone Foundation website – www.growfood.com – where Dr. Mittleider’s seminal work is preserved and presented. Go to the Freebies section to learn the basics, and look in the Apendix (P. 276-281) of The Mittleider Gardening Course book for excellent illustrations of in-the-garden greenhouses. This will make it much easier to understand what you are reading below, and help you build them yourself.
I recommend you save the following description of covered T-Frames:
In a garden with 18″ X 30′ beds and 3 1/2′ aisles, place 8 T-Frames at 10′ intervals in two adjacent beds parallel with the outside stakes, so that the 4″ X 4″ posts are 6 1/2′ apart. The top of the “T” should be 32″ long, and thus the width of both together is 8′.
For stability, nail each set of two T-Frames together, bridging the gap between them with 8′ long 2″ X 4″s. Next, tie all T-Frames together lengthwise using 6 – 10′ 2 X 4’s. Now you have a 8′ X 30′ greenhouse frame covering two Grow-Beds or Grow-Boxes (containers).
Alternatively, make A-Frames covering two adjacent beds by replacing the 2 – 32″ tops with a single 8′ top.
Buy 32 – 3/4″ 45 degree PVC elbows and 1″ pipe straps. Nail or screw the straps and elbows at 2-foot intervals along both sides of the 2 X 4 frame, with the elbows facing up and to the center of the greenhouse.
Buy 16 – 10′-long pieces of 3/4″ PVC Schedule 200 pipe, 16 – 3/4″ pipe straps, and 4 – 8′ pieces of 1″ X 2″ lumber. Cut the PVC pipe and the 1″ X 2″ lumber to to 7 1/2′ lengths. Nail the 1 X 2’s together, using the 6″ pieces, making a single piece 30′ long. Nail or screw the 3/4″ pipe straps to the 1 X 2″ wood at 2-foot intervals, on the same side of the wood as the 6″ pieces which hold the wood together. Insert the 3/4″ PVC pipes through the straps. With the wood on top, insert the PVC pieces into the 45 degree PVC elbows – creating the arched roof.
Buy a roll of 6-mil 24′-wide greenhouse plastic at least 39′ long (do NOT use construction plastic. It will become brittle and tear within 3-4 months). Cover the greenhouse, with 4 1/2′ overlapping on each end.
Buy 8 – 1″-long eye bolts and 130′ of 1/4″ nylon rope. Attach eye bolts on the side of each T-Frame T – 1″ in from the edge and 1″ down from the top. Cut rope into 8 – 16′ lengths. Tie one end of rope to each eye bolt. Hammer a 3 1/2″ nail into the top of the 2″ X 4″ on the upper outside edge near the eye bolt. Tie short loops into ropes at 10′, 12′ and 14′ to give 3 levels of opening the sides of your greenhouse plastic.
Buy 16 – 8′-long pieces of 1″ X 2″ lumber. Cut all to 7 1/2′ lengths. Cut 2 into 4 – 3 3/4′ lengths. Place wood on both side edges of greenhouse plastic along both sides of greenhouse and screw together, sandwiching the plastic between the two pieces of wood. Alternate lengths of 1″ X 2″ between 3 3/4′ and 7 1/2′, to make the entire 30′ length strong. Roll plastic sides up in warm weather, and lower when cold weather threatens.
Fold and attach plastic on ends to secure an air-tight covering in cold weather, and open when weather is warm.
The URL for the Gardening Group with pictures of the two “greenhouses” is http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MittleiderMethodGardening/