Why and how to make a raised bed hoop tunnel in 5-10 minutes…
These are our hoop tunnels. In the warmer months, we use them to hang bird netting over our crops, to keep birds, squirrels, and other animals out of our raised beds, while still easily allowing bees and other pollinators in.
In the colder months, we hang 6 mil greenhouse plastic over them, protecting them from the cold. This warmth and frost protection allows us to start growing early, and to keep harvesting much later in the season.
Combine these perks with the fact that they are incredibly cheap and easy to make, and that gives you the ‘why’ we do this.
Simply buy ten foot lengths of 1/2” PVC pipe. The number you need will depend on how long your garden bed is. I like to place them every few feet (roughly). You will also need one for the top of each bed, creating a spine, if you will. If your raised bed is longer than 10 feet, you will either need a longer spine, or perhaps you can put a couple pieces together.
Hammer a 3-4 foot piece of rebar into each corner, and every few feet along the inside walls. Be sure that each piece of rebar has another corresponding piece directly across from it, on the other side of the bed. If your raised bed has a bottom, you may have to use shorter pieces of rebar that go down to the bottom, but only stick out of the top of the soil 2-3 inches.
Once your rebar is hammered in place, place your PVC pipe over the end of a piece of rebar, and then bend it as needed to place the other end over the corresponding piece of rebar on the opposite side of the bed. Once each PVC pipe is in place, you can push the ends of the pipe down into the soil, until you reach your desired hoop tunnel height. If your PVC pipe is more than 1/2” wide, it will be much more difficult to bend, so we strongly recommend the 1/2” pipe.
Then, you want to attach your PVC spine to each hoop, using U-Bolts.
Once your entire tunnel is in place, simply drape your desires material over it (i.e. bird/insect netting, shade cloth, greenhouse plastic, etc). Clip this material onto the PVC with clips/clamps of your choice, available at most hardware stores.