I grow a lot of kale in my garden, and the last 2 years the caterpillars have been eating more than I do. I do not use pesticides. I decided this year I would cover this area with netting to try and prevent or at least minimize the eggs getting laid on the kale. It is a small white butterfly that starts laying eggs in June, and by July the caterpillars are eating large holes in the kale. I also decided that I can cover the area with plastic until it warms up so that I will get some kale earlier. It is April 15th and there is a lot already growing. I have been keeping the area covered with plastic. The area I covered is about 12 feet by 7 feet. I went to the local home improvement store and bought 8 - 24 inch pieces of rebar($1.75 each), 4 pieces of PVC 1/2 inch by 10 foot($1.85 each), and at Walmart I found a roll of plastic for $15. It is 20' by 25'. I also had some dollar store zip ties that I did not need to buy.
Step 1: Putting in the Rebar
When I was putting in the 1st piece of rebar I noticed that the top was getting flattened out, so I covered it with a socket to help prevent the damage. The PVC needs to fit over the rebar so it needs to stay round. The spacing I used was approximate 7 foot from side to side, and for the length about 3 feet from bar to bar. The rebar is 24 inches long, and I left about 12 inches sticking out.
Step 2: Assembling the Frame
The PVC was a little tight going over the rebar, but this will help it from coming off.
Step 3: Adding the Cover
It was very windy today, and I was by myself, so it was a challenge getting this on without it blowing away. I used 4 zip ties on each tube. This should hold it. If not I can add more. I plan to leave this on for 2 -3 weeks, and then I will remove the plastic and install the netting. The netting I have is from walmart and it's in 10 by 14 foot sections. It was $6 a package. I bought extra because I will overlap the netting to get better coverage. When it gets cold I will reinstall the plastic so I can extend the growing season as long as possible. This took me about 2 hours to so, I would hope it will last 2-3 years. The extra vegetables I will get will be worth the low cost and ease of building this.
Step 4: April 24th, Inside the Hoop House
Kale from last year, and some new kale seed are coming up fast. I also mixed in some onions, collards and radishes. The onions are supposed to help repel pests. In about 10 days I plan to remove the plastic and put the netting. I have already seen a white butterfly buzzing my garden looking for the kale. This is the one that lays the eggs that turn into the caterpillars that I am trying to prevent.
April 28th- I am in Northern Indiana, and last night we had a late snow storm. The structure held up with the weight of the snow and it stayed warm enough inside to prevent things from freezing up.
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