Yes, we terraced a small garden of cool season crops into the hillside behind our house in late October. That’s because we live in southern California and we can get away with that. November brought us some nights down in the mid thirties, however. Thankfully, I’m a huge fan of all things ‘weather’ and was ready; we covered everything with some old blankets. That cold spell lasted for more than a week and I got tired of going out every night and every morning. I also didn’t like how the heavy blankets were weighing down on the young seedlings. Then I remembered the website I saw last summer about Herrick Kimball’s Whizbang Row Cover Hoop System. I initially discovered Herrick’s treasure trove of online homesteading ideas after Courtney got me two of his books for my birthday last year, Anyone Can Build a Mechanical Tub-Style Chicken Plucker and Anyone Can Build a Whizbang Chicken Scalder.
The Row Cover Hoop System has all of his plans available free of charge with lots of pictures and descriptions. I followed his plans exactly and my row cover turned out very nicely. I used 4 mil plastic instead of the fabric. I also noticed during installation, that you have to be very careful carving the stakes. I broke two of them because the white pine snapped at the top, where I whittled it down to fit inside the conduit.
To my dismay, I went out to look at things just as the sun was coming up the next morning, and everything inside was frosted! This system was initially designed for natural pest control and not exactly frost protection. But perhaps it is not that big of a problem. All of the plants are fine.
Then I remembered the Subsistence Pattern Blog. They had pictures of snow several feet deep in Idaho and then they just peel back the plastic to reveal a thriving winter garden. In fact, you should check out the post they just put up yesterday titled Gardening in the Snow which is about their row cover system. As I thought through it some more and talked with Courtney, we realized that all of these winter crops do just fine with a little frost. Maybe I didn’t even need a row cover! Oh well, it was a fun project anyways.