The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Mending the quick hoop

Mending a row cover

Collapsed quick hoopWhen I made our first quick hoop, I figured the stucture's cost-efficiency would largely depend on how long the row cover fabric lasts.  Luckily, the delicate fabric gets less damaged on quick hoops than it did on cold frames, but the combination of age, snow, and falling branches did result in some serious dings this winter.

I waited to do my mending until it was time to move the quick hoops from the overwintering beds they were protecting to new beds of spring crops.  Although it's possible to mend fabric when stretched over the hoops, it's much easier to take it inside, cut out a piece of fabric from a ruined row cover, and then whip-stitch the patch over the hole.

Patching a quick hoopI figure it cost about $50 to make each of our 25-foot-long quick hoops, and after two years of use, I'd say the fabric will last three years total.  We've also had to replace one of the hoops, and may need to expect to do that every year or so.  If so, our cost to keep a quick hoop going over a decade will be about $75, or $7.50 per year.  Not bad for spring seed-starting, overwintering lettuce and kale, and protecting the last summer crops from early frosts.

Treat your chickens to our POOP-free chicken waterer.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I use a thicker plastic to cover my hoops but I noticed your cover looks more like a gauze fabric. Would you please explain why you use this fabric to cover your hoops?
Comment by mona Wed Mar 13 10:24:25 2013

Mona --- One benefit of row cover fabric is that it lets water through, so you don't have to hand water in the winter. It also lets hot air out in the day, so you don't have to take off covers every day and put them back on for the night during the shoulder season.

Eliot Coleman is the pro for season extension and he uses row cover fabric, then covers it with plastic during the dead of winter. We live further south, so get away with just using row cover fabric alone.

Comment by anna Wed Mar 13 10:45:46 2013

If you replace the hoops you may consider using the gray electrical conduit since it is rated for outdoor use and is "sunlight resistant." I think the price may be cheaper as well depending on the size. We use 1/2" conduit which is ~3/4" O.D.

I have snap clamps that fit our hoops and have been using these on the hoops themselves but they are causing tears. I'm going to try something like shown in the video below and just attach a conduit along the edges so I can raise the entire side of our beds easily.

Comment by Brian Wed Mar 13 11:59:49 2013

What does everyone use to secure their row covers to the beds? We experience high winds in our area and it rips the row covers off the beds and shreds it in 1 season. We've tried weighting down with rocks or clips but this seems to cause more tearing. We have intermediate weight row covers, so it's not due to the type of fabric. Thanks for any suggestions!

Comment by MC Sun Mar 24 23:59:41 2013

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