[MittleiderMethodGardening] Covering T-Frames over an 18" soil-bed or Grow-Box to Protect from Weather


The question has been asked - how can we protect our vertically-grown plants from the weather, short of building an in-the-garden greenhouse?

We have not given any instructions for the PVC arches and plastic for a single 18" bed or box with T-Frames - not that it is a bad idea, but just because we have not done one ourselves :)

And I never saw Dr. Mittleider put plastic over a single bed or box with T-Frames either. I guess that's because Jacob was always demonstrating using large gardens and it was more efficient to cover 2 beds or boxes and have the in-the-garden greenhouse benefits for little more money. But that does not address the small backyard garden with only ONE bed or box with T-Frames. So, I will make the attempt to describe how to do it.

First of all, you will need to have 2 X 4's on edge tying your T-Frames together, rather than pipe or wire. This is so that you can screw the 45 degree PVC elbows every 2' to those 2 X 4's and have a place for the PVC.

In addition, you will need to have 9 gauge wire (or 1/2" galvanized plumbing pipe) running the length of your bed 2" in from the outside edges of the T-Frame T. This is where you will fasten your baling twine for your plants to grow on. If you were not covering with plastic you could tie your twine to the 2 X 4's on the outside edge, but with plastic covering those outside edges it would not work, especially when the plants reach the top of the string.

When the structure is in place attach 3/4" - 45 degree elbows on the inside of the 2 X 4's every 2' and hold them in place with "plumbers' strapping tape", which is flexible metal material that plumbers use to hold pipes in place. Do not put the elbows on the outside of your T-Frame structure The plastic will rub on the elbows and wear through and the pressure from the PVC pipes pushing out will pop them off the 2 X 4s.

Buy enough Schedule 40 3/4" PVC pipe to make your roof "trusses". Since your T-Frame top is only 32" long you might want to experiment with cutting one pipe into 3 equal lengths of 40" and placing those into the elbows to see if you have enough arch to your roof. Heating the pipe with a heat gun, carefully and evenly, will help, and will relieve the outward pressure the pipe will otherwise exert on the 2 X 4's.

Things to consider in determining the arch that you want would be how tall you want your plants to grow, and if there is likely to be a snow load problem. I'm sorry that I do not have a single bed or box with T-Frames installed in my present garden, that I can use to do all of the above and give you better counsel.

You will next need to have sufficient clear UV-protected greenhouse plastic to cover the T-Frame structure, with 1' of extra on each side. Depending on the height of your arch the width should likely be about 20". The length of your plastic should be at least 3' longer than the bed or box.

Install 2 X 4's below the outside corners of each T to support the plastic sides. They should be buried so they don't move, and screwed into the under side of the tops.

Before installing the plastic prepare and install the PVC plastic-holding system LDS Prepper describes in his videos. Remove 1/3rd of the pipe on 6' lengths of 200 PSI 3/4" PVC pipe. Sand the edges carefully, so that they do not cut the inserted greenhouse plastic. Place them on both ends and the outside 2 X 4's, starting near the ground, and screwing to the posts. Cut 6' lengths of 1/2" PVC to be pushed into the larger pipes after the greenhouse plastic is in place.

Using at least 2 people, put the plastic cover over the T-Frame structure, making sure that the plastic hangs over the sides and ends the same everywhere.

While holding the plastic snugly against the structure on all sides, screw 1 X 2's to the sides of the 2 X 4's along both sides at the top, to hold the greenhouse plastic permanently in place.

Again, while holding the plastic snugly against the sides of the structure, snap the 6' lengths of 1/2" PVC into the 3/4" PVC, all around the structure. On the ends, do the same, overlapping the two sides and putting both pieces of plastic into the "holder".

Next, sandwich the plastic at ground level on both sides between 2 - 1 X 2's using screws . Use different lengths of 1 X 2 on front and back, so that joints do not occur in the same place, for strength.

Depending on your wind and weather conditions you may find it necessary to cover the bottom edges of your plastic with dirt to hold them down and keep the cold wind out, or you may be able to place stakes 2" from the base of your vertical 2 X 4's and keep everything in place.


Posted by: jim@growfood.com
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