- plastic sheeting to create greenhouse conditions for germinating seedlings and to guard against cold weather and punishing downpours
- netting to keep cats and dogs from digging and birds from eating seeds and seedlings
- lightweight crop blankets/row covers to guard against insect pests and light frosts
I started out using pipe clamps to secure my PVC “hoop anchors”, like this:
But all those pipe clamps can get expensive, so now I fasten my “hoop anchors” directly to the inside wall of the beds. Here’s what I do:
3/4-inch PVC pipe, enough to make the proper amount of hoop anchors per bed. This will depend on the dimensions of your bed. My new raised beds are 8 feet long, so I wanted 4 hoops. This allows enough support so the coverings, netting, plastic sheeting, or row cover, would not sag unduly. This meant hoop anchors every 32 inches on each of the two long sides, or 8 anchors per bed.
Cut sections of pipe the depth of your raised bed. Mine are 9 1/2 inches deep, so I cut 8 pieces of 3/4-inch PVC pipe, 9 1/2 inches long each.
To make the hoop anchors, cut a section of the 3/4-inch pipe to the desired length. Secure a section in a vise and drill a hole about two inches from one end. You can drill your holes one of two ways: If you use a standard 1/4 inch bit, drill all the way through, as shown in the photo:
Pull the bit out so you are only drilling into the first hole, angle the drill bit all around as you drill,
Leave the opposite hole too small for the screw head to go through.
The other way is to use a spade bit/Forstner bit a little larger than the screw head. After you drill one hole all the way through with the spade bit, use the sharp tip of the spade bit to drill a pilot hole opposite the large hole, but do not drill into the opposite hole with the spade part of the bit.
About 4 inches further down the section of pipe, make another pair of holes through the pipe, just like the first pair.
Install the hoop anchor inside your raised bed as shown at the appropriate intervals for your size bed. (Mine were 32 inches apart). Use a driver bit long enough to reach through the outside hole to the inside wall of the pipe. Exterior-grade decking screws are best.
Install the rest of your anchors at the proper intervals, in pairs opposite one another.
For the Hoops:
1/2 inch PVC pipe
Again, what you need depends on the dimensions of your raised beds. For beds similar in size to mine, one 10 foot length of 1/2 inch pipe per hoop is a good starting point (pipe is sold in 10 foot sections in my home center). Once you have installed the anchors, put one end of the 1/2-in. pipe in its anchor and bend it over gently, cutting off some of the other end until you have a hoop of the desired height. It is an inexact science. My hoops ended up 88 inches long. (I use the left over pieces for trellises that are too weak for my tomato plants–see FLOPS).
Once you have decided on the right length for your hoop pipe (1/2-in. pipe), you can install your hoops.
The hoops can be removed and stored when you no longer need any type of covering. As a bonus the hoop anchors can then be used to anchor trellises made from 1/2 inch pipe or simple stakes or trellises of whatever material. (Just make sure they are sturdier than my tomato trellis.)
TIP: Before you place one end of hoop pipe in its anchor and start to bend, take the hoop pipe and bend it into a perfect “rainbow” to develop a “memory” in the hoop bend that is symmetrical, otherwise you may end up with a slightly wonky curve. Not a big problem, just a purely aesthetic issue. (I saw someplace where someone was asking where you could buy curved PVC. Now, I’m a firm believer that there are no dumb questions, but. . . Bless. Their. Heart.)
Another aesthetic issue–I may paint mine green to de-emphasize their presence. I do live in the suburbs, and I like to keep things low-profile. I think the PVC is kind of nice like it is, but it looks a bit industrial.