Row Covers

Discussion in 'The Green Patch' started by Equilibrium, Feb 13, 2011.

  1. Equilibrium

    Equilibrium Monkey++

    I need to make some frames soon so I can cover up my broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. The raised beds I'm growing them in are all 4.5' wide with assorted lengths. I've looked at a lot of blogs and I'm more than a little turned off by finding out that most bloggers get compensated for their product "reviews" and "testimonials" so I'm not exactly going to trust a blogger anymore. I had no clue there was so much money for dropping "seeds" of which products are best and "bestest". It sorta sucks because now I don't know which bloggers' claims are legitimate or motivated by writing a blog entry to make a buck. Anywho.... I tried using some pvc to make a frame. I bent it and it snapped. PVC isn't going to work for a frame but there's got to be something else I could use that's affordable for framing without having to resort to store bought row cover frames and then there is the issue of which material to use over a frame. Has anyone made their own row covers and if you did.... what'd you use for the frame and what'd you use to cover it with please.
    Here's a photo pulled from the internet showing floating row covers that the person obviously used pvc as a frame and this person's pvc didn't snap. It's not my photo BTW but it said anyone could use it. I'm also wondering what was used to drape over the frames that was held down with bricks.
    floating row covers.
  2. Gray Wolf

    Gray Wolf Monkey+++

    We use PVC, it comes in black coils and doesn't snap when we cut it into the arches.
    If you are trying to use white PVC pipe, I can see where that would cause problems.
    I'll try to get some pics later.
  3. Equilibrium

    Equilibrium Monkey++

    I'd love to see your photos for sure. This is something I need to deal with real soon. I'd also like to know how you're attaching them to get that quonset type deal going over your beggies and what you're using to drape over the frame.
  4. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    It looks like a sheet of plastic which was draped over the PVC, and it turned translucent from the condensation the plants cause.

    If you try to bend PVC that is too wide diameter, it will break. The thick-walled type in thin diameter should work.
  5. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    More likely cheesecloth. Cuts the heat of direct sun, doesn't collect condensation, and breaks up the force of rain and wind. Still, you have to control ventilation, it gets hot under the tent.
  6. Equilibrium

    Equilibrium Monkey++

    Yes.... I bought enough white pvc to create a "skeleton" at 2' intervals for the length of one 4.5 x 12' raised veggie bed. Then I bought a 12' length to run along the top. My brainchild was to use twist ties to attach the seven looped pieces of pvc to the straight length. I wasn't rough with it or anything. I just sorta stuck one length of it inside the veggie bed and started bending it and SNAP. I didn't try another one. I'm definitely looking for brands of row cover material or a readily available material that would "breathe" without blocking too much of the sun. I suppose I could use screen but boy oh boy would that be expensive.
  7. Witch Doctor 01

    Witch Doctor 01 Mojo Maker

    you can use a heat gun to help bend them... but a 1/4 inch pipe should be nice and bendy...
  8. Equilibrium

    Equilibrium Monkey++

    I think... not positive.... I bought 1". I've never used a heat gun. I've used a soldering iron before but... not a heat gun. I can try that since I already have the pvc pre-cut to usable lengths.
  9. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart,Deadman Walking, Snow Monkey Moderator

    Or an electric Heating Pad... Just wrap it around the section you want to bend, and turn it on HIGH, until the pipe gets soft then bend it slowly... this is how the BIG BOYS do it, and they have a Heating Wrap Tool, for the job...
  10. Witch Doctor 01

    Witch Doctor 01 Mojo Maker

    I'll have you know that at 6'4" and 275 lbs i'm not a generally considered a small person....;)
  11. BAT1

    BAT1 Cowboys know no fear

    Drill holes in the top edges of your boxes and insert 3/8 rebar. make sure it is a tight fit.
    Then slip over 1/2 PVC arches for beds over 4 ft wide. Velcro will seal the edges against bugs.
    2 ft wide beds will have to have 45 or 90 degree fittings as the bending radius is too small.
    We just put 20 2x10x 12" high boxes out at our spot this week. We are going to build a green house over them, tired of the covers, netting, hail, thieves, chem trails etc. The roof will be slanted with a gutter for rainwater collection into a black painted 550 gallon tank and timed pumped irrigation lines. We'll run it through a filter to keep the lines clean.
    Still deciding on drip [gravity] or misters [electric]. May try some hydroponic beds too. The new fluorescents rock, speeds up growth, but they need power also.
    We have found that rainwater is better than well water. We also have a river 50 ft away.
  12. Equilibrium

    Equilibrium Monkey++

    And.... the material folk are using to drape over the top is.... ? And it's purchased where..... ?
    And this is how BIG girls will do it. I practiced on the broken one I kept and it's not quite doing it but... I think the pvc I bought is too thick at 1.5". I can read right on the pvc the size I actually bought. I'm going to have to try it on a thinner/smaller size of pvc and from what I could feel experimenting on the 1.5".... I think the heating pad trick is going to for sure work as long as the pvc isn't too thick.
    BAT> Are you in a position to share photos? The only rebar I know of is the metal wire they stuck in the concrete they poured for our patio and sidewalks and that doesn't sound like the right rebar.
    Tough decision. I went with electric misters on timers. I feel it was a mistake for me but it may not be for you. If I had it to do over again, I'd go with gravity drip.
    I have some of the new fluorescents. I still prefer the metal halides. I think that's one of those deals that's two-fold.... it depends on what we're growing and it depends on what type of lighting we started with. I think for me the problem is I got used to one type of lighting and got stuck in old ways is all.
  13. thebastidge

    thebastidge Monkey+

    Half-inch metal conduit is cheap, bends easily, and there are connector sleeves that fit over the end of two pieces to tie them together. A double set screw in the sleeve makes each piece nice and secure. In the same aisle at homed epot, you'll find pipe benders. The smaller ones cost about $50 and will work without noticeable effort, but you have to be careful to get the bend radius consistent on that long of a curve.

    I used some to hang some curtains once (long, long length of curtains for a special event) using eyelets screwed into the ceiling with bailing wire suspending the conduit all the way around the room, and curtains hangin from the conduit. To make the 90 degree bends for that room, I just grabbed the pipe bender off the shelf at Home Depot, used it right there in the aisle, and then took the bent conduit up to the cash register and put the pipe bender back on the shelf. Of course that was only for 3 pieces that needed to be bent.

    If you're using the sleeve connectors, make sure that any plastic sheeting won't tear because of it- turn the set screws away from the covering.
  14. Dovey

    Dovey Monkey++

    For years I have used those concrete reinforcing things that are used for glass block walls. If you go to Home Depot site and enter concrete reinforcing and look at "Pittsburgh Corning
    Glass Block Panel Reinforcing 36/CA".

    They work great, cut them to whatever size you need, stick them in the ground inside your raised bed walls, and drape your row covers over them. I hold the covers on with clothes pins.
  15. beast

    beast backwoodsman

    hmmm, i posted a reply here earlier
    where did it go?
    did i say something wrong?
  16. natshare

    natshare Monkey+++

    I'd suggest 1/2" pvc piping for your framework. It should bend pretty easily, and while you might need support ribs more often (meaning more material), the lower cost of the material should offset it. You can also use a torch to bend the material, but be careful not to get it too hot (it can get taffy-like, and lose its strength and integrity), and don't set it on fire! LOL

    Around the bottom, you could use 90 degree elbows for the corners, and pipe T's for the ribs, and actually make it fully framed, for easier installation and removal, I'd think.
  17. Yard Dart

    Yard Dart Vigilant Monkey Moderator

    1-inch or 1 1/2 PVC is not going to bend very well and you would be better suited with a smaller diameter, 1/2 inch will work fine for this application. Most likely under heat the 1-inch will just fold instead of bend... at the radius you probably need. A heating blanket is the route to go if you want to try.... the rebar trick in conjunction with a little heat will make you happy.
  18. Cruisin Sloth

    Cruisin Sloth Special & Slow

    black pipe is called "Polly" pipe , bends ez but heat in hot summer will make it very weak, PVC 1/2 pipe comes in two thickness of schedule , 40 thick wall & 200 that is thin , plus some places sell non-potable that is cheaper.
    Schedule 200 non-potable in 1/2 outside diameter is what I would use.
    Mindgrinder and Yard Dart like this.
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