How to Build a DIY Row Cover to Extend Your Growing Season


* This article contains affiliate links. For more information, please read my Affiliate Disclosure.

 

 

DIY Row Cover | DIY Garden Cloche | DIY Hoop House | Growing Season ExtenderA row cover is like a mini, mobile greenhouse for your outdoor garden. Extend your growing season with this easy DIY row cover tutorial!

* * *

Aside from our greenhouse, row covers are my favourite ways to protect our plants from the cold and extend our growing season here in the Pacific Northwest. Instead of a greenhouse that is typically quite large and stationary, large, row covers like these ones we’ve constructed are generally lighter and more portable, and making them yourself means you can customize them to fit over top of your existing outdoor garden rows or raised beds.

Instead of small cold frames that fit over individual plants or small clusters, these DIY row covers are large enough to fit over your entire garden bed (or at least large sections of it), sheltering all of your plants from the cold.

I’ve called these garden cloches and even mini hoop houses in the past, since all of them basically function the same way and row covers can also mean sheets of light cloth that protect plants from bugs in the summer.

(Plus, these are customizable, so you could build them small like a garden cloche, long like row covers or extra large like hop houses. That’s the beauty of doing it yourself;)

But no matter what you call them or how big or small you build them, their purpose is to help you extend your growing window and get more out of your garden at the beginning and the end of the season.

 

Update…

I originally wrote this post (and took the photos) three years ago. Since then we’ve rebuilt our row covers to fit our in-ground rows at our new house and redesigned them just slightly.

We recorded a simple how-to video to show you how we did it, which (if you’re a visual learner like me), may be easier to follow than reading the directions. 

Here’s the full video tutorial if you’d rather watch how we built ours:)

 

 

 

Related: 15 Essential Tools for Every Home Toolkit

 

How we constructed our DIY row covers

When we first constructed our row covers/garden cloches/mini hoop houses, we were living at our old house where we had raised garden beds, so we constructed them to fit our raised beds and actually attached them to the raised beds with old door hinges so we could easily lift them open and closed. Now we’re in our new place and have in-ground garden beds, so we now use the skinnier of the two covers to protect our row of fall crops and it’s just wide enough to fit over one of our standard-width rows.

We also have an unheated greenhouse that helps to extend our growing season here as temperatures begin to plummet (we’ve been getting hard frosts overnight and snow is in the forecast for next week).

When we first built these row covers we were scrambling to get them put together after an unexpected snowfall hit us just two days after Halloween one year (even though we’d been out Trick-Or-Treating in short sleeves).

So my first piece of advice would be, don’t wait until your first hard frost or until the snow starts falling to get your row covers built. But, speaking from experience, as long as you’ve got cold-tolerant crops, you can still help protect them from the weight of a heavy snowfall or extended periods of hard frost by getting them covered ASAP, even if you’re a bit late (as we were when we first built ours).

 

Related: 10 Fall Gardening Tips for a Productive Garden Next Year

 

Always be prepared (but better late than never)

If there’s one lesson I continue to learn over and over on this homesteading journey, it’s that you should always be prepared for anything at any time.

There really is no such thing as being over-prepared or being prepared too far in advance when you’re striving to live a more self-sufficient lifestyle. You’ve gotta have your own back and protect your own livelihood, and that most certainly includes your food source! 

A hoop house is like a portable greenhouse for your outdoor garden. It can help you extend your growing season and help shelter your winter garden from snow and ice. You can make your own hoop house with simple building materials in a single afternoon. Learn how to build a hoop house the quick and easy way with this DIY hoop house project tutorial.

When the first snowfall unexpectedly hit, I thought about trying to dig up our plants and re-planting them in the greenhouse. But the ground was already frozen solid. Plus, they wouldn’t all have enough space to grow to full size in our little greenhouse. There was really only one thing I could do: Send my husband out to the garage in a snowstorm and make him build us a couple garden cloches!

We spent a few minutes kicking ourselves and moaning about not having built these row covers sooner. But at the end of the day we knew that late is better than never! Besides, even if our plants didn’t make it through the winter, having these row covers ready to go in the spring can help you get a jumpstart on the growing season since the soil beneath them will warm up and be workable earlier in the season.

 

Related: 3 Ways to Protect Your Plants From the Cold

 

How to build a DIY row cover for garden rows or raised beds

Before you start building, you’ll need to gather up a few supplies. Here’s what you’ll need (sizes and lengths will depend on your individual measurements, so be sure to read through all the instructions before purchasing materials or making any cuts):

  • Lumber (we used pre-treated 2x4s. You can use any lumber that is long enough and wide enough to support the size of your frame).
  • ½-inch PVC piping
  • 6 mil plastic sheeting (or other plastic sheeting made for greenhouses and hoop houses)
  • Hardware (construction screws, staples, hinges*, adhesive*, Gorilla Tape*)
  • Tools (saw, drill, 1-inch spade bit or hole saw, staple gun)

*Starred items are optional or supplementary.

Next, you need to decide how long, wide and tall you want your row covers to be depending on the area you want to cover. Make sure to measure twice before you cut and start building. Read through the following directions first before you start building.

 

DIY row cover step-by-step instructions

  1. Measure the space that needs to be covered (including width and length) and write these measurements down
  2. Build your frame. You’ll need some 2x4s and ½-inch PVC piping. 
  3. Cut your lumber to the size of your garden bed and screw together with construction screws. Add corner braces if you like to make the frame more rigid and sturdy.A hoop house is like a portable greenhouse for your outdoor garden. It can help you extend your growing season and help shelter your winter garden from snow and ice. You can make your own hoop house with simple building materials in a single afternoon. Learn how to build a hoop house the quick and easy way with this DIY hoop house project tutorial.
  4. Use a 1-inch spade bit (or hole saw) to drill 1-inch diameter holes along the long sides of your frame directly across from one another, beginning at one end of your frame and again roughly every two feet until you reach the end of your frame. Drill each hole about 1 inch deep. These holes will serve as the mounting points for the PVC pipes that will make up the “spine” of the row cover.A hoop house is like a portable greenhouse for your outdoor garden. It can help you extend your growing season and help shelter your winter garden from snow and ice. You can make your own hoop house with simple building materials in a single afternoon. Learn how to build a hoop house the quick and easy way with this DIY hoop house project tutorial.
  5. Decide how tall you want your row cover(s) to be.
  6. Cut your PVC pipe into equal lengths. Add the width of your row cover frame to 1.5 times the height you’d like your row cover to be to determine how long each piece of PVC pipe should be (Width + 1.5xHeight). You’ll need one piece of PVC pipe for approximately every 2 feet of length of your row cover.
  7. Fit one end of the first piece of PVC pipe into the first hole on one side of the frame and carefully bend the pipe in an arch to make up the “spine” of the frame, and fit the other end of the pipe into the hole directly opposite on the other side of the frame. Repeat this process until you reach the end of your frame. A row cover is like a mini, mobile greenhouse for your outdoor garden. You can use a row cover to extend your growing season in the fall, winter and early spring by using it to cover your in-ground or raised garden beds. The best part is, You can make your own row cover with simple building materials in a single afternoon, and customize it to fit your garden beds. Learn how with this DIY row cover tutorial! #rowcover #diyrowcover
  8. Secure PVC pipe by drilling a pilot hole through the lumber and the pipe in the side of the frame at each hole and driving in a 1-inch screw to secure the pipe in place. *Alternatively, fill the holes with adhesive before putting each pipe in place and allow time to cure before continuing.A hoop house is like a portable greenhouse for your outdoor garden. It can help you extend your growing season and help shelter your winter garden from snow and ice. You can make your own hoop house with simple building materials in a single afternoon. Learn how to build a hoop house the quick and easy way with this DIY hoop house project tutorial.
  9. Cover your frame with 6 mil plastic sheeting (vapour barrier) or greenhouse plastic.You’ll need a sheet of plastic that’s slightly wider than your cut PVC pipes are long, and the length of your row cover plus the height of the row cover on each end. To cover, lay your frame on its side. Centre your plastic sheet along the length of the frame and staple it along the bottom edge. Then flip the frame over and stretch the plastic over the second side. Smooth out any wrinkles and staple this side.A row cover is like a mini, mobile greenhouse for your outdoor garden. You can use a row cover to extend your growing season in the fall, winter and early spring by using it to cover your in-ground or raised garden beds. The best part is, You can make your own row cover with simple building materials in a single afternoon, and customize it to fit your garden beds. Learn how with this DIY row cover tutorial! #rowcover #diyrowcover
  10. Cut off excess plastic along the bottom edge. Secure the ends by pulling the sheet from the centre point at the top of the frame and stretching it down to the centre on the base of the frame on each end and securing with a couple staples.
  11. Smooth out the plastic over the end and fold the corners like a present. Staple the bottom to the frame making sure to smooth out the plastic as you go.A row cover is like a mini, mobile greenhouse for your outdoor garden. You can use a row cover to extend your growing season in the fall, winter and early spring by using it to cover your in-ground or raised garden beds. The best part is, You can make your own row cover with simple building materials in a single afternoon, and customize it to fit your garden beds. Learn how with this DIY row cover tutorial! #rowcover #diyrowcover
  12. Cut off the excess plastic on the bottom edge and repeat on the other side. Once all of your ends are pulled tight, folded in, stapled together and the excess plastic has been cut off, your row cover is finished and ready to go in the garden!

You might want to tape down the folded ends to prevent any snow or rain from getting in and to help prevent warm air from escaping. I would recommend using Gorilla Tape to do this as it holds better than any other kind of industrial tape (yes, better than Duct Tape!) 

From here you can either lift and carry your row cover to your garden and place it overtop of your garden row or bed (you’ll want an extra pair of hands to help with this). Or if you’re planning to add hinges for a raised bed, do so now and then screw into the wooden frame of your raised bed.

This is how our finished garden cloches looked once we screwed the hinges into the raised beds at our old place.

A hoop house is like a portable greenhouse for your outdoor garden. It can help you extend your growing season and help shelter your winter garden from snow and ice. You can make your own hoop house with simple building materials in a single afternoon. Learn how to build a hoop house the quick and easy way with this DIY hoop house project tutorial.

A hoop house is like a portable greenhouse for your outdoor garden. It can help you extend your growing season and help shelter your winter garden from snow and ice. You can make your own hoop house with simple building materials in a single afternoon. Learn how to build a hoop house the quick and easy way with this DIY hoop house project tutorial.

And there you have it! You can keep your row covers closed and your garden beds covered during the winter to help shelter plants from snow and extreme cold, and in the spring to help warm up the soil earlier. 

Of course if you can, get your row covers built before the first snow!

But if you’re already too late, spring is just around the corner;)

Wishing you homemade, homegrown, homestead happiness 🙂

 

 

 

The House & Homestead

 

 

 

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3 Comments

  1. Yasinzaii

    Hi Anna, This is a great mini greenhouse DIY project. The idea of drilling holes in the wooden base to fasten the hoop was new for me. Actually, This makes the hoophouse look more professional and resilient to winds. Thank you so much I was helpful. This year I wrote an article about hoophouse. (A bigger hoop house.), I am sharing the link with you I hope you will love it.
    my ariticle: How to Build a HOOP HOUSE – A Complete Step by Step Guide

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      Hi Yasinzaii! These garden cloches worked fabulously for us over the winter. Drilling holes in and adding hinges on made it so much easier to lift them up and put them back down when needed, and when it was warm enough, we simply took unscrewed the hoop houses from our raised beds and put them off to the side. They’re there waiting for when the weather gets cold again 🙂 I’ll definitely check out your article as well! I always love to see how others are doing things around their houses and homesteads and am always inspired by others. Thank you for sharing!

      Reply

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ABOUT ANNA
Hi! I’m Anna, and I’m a city girl turned modern homesteader who’s passionate about growing, cooking and preserving real food at home, creating my own herbal medicine and all-natural home and body care products, and working toward a simpler, more sustainable and self-sufficient life each and every day. 
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We’ve barely had time to adapt to the “new normal” and still things are continuing to shift, change, and in some cases spiral more each day.

From rising inflation and persistent supply chain issues, to a looming recession and food shortages that are expected to get worse after a very tough farming year, to a war on European soil and the threat of cyber attacks and (God forbid) a nuclear attack, to the future of digital IDs and increasingly pervasive government control over every aspect of our lives, it’s no wonder more people are looking for ways to escape the matrix and “opt out” of the system.

I consider myself an optimistic realist: I hope for the best and I live fully and freely in the moment, but I prepare for the future accordingly based on what I can see unfolding in our world. And honestly, I find this “sweet spot” to be incredibly empowering.

This is why I do what I do and why I share it with you on a regular basis; I WANT TO EMPOWER YOU TOO!

That’s why I created The Society of Self-Reliance: A private membership that connects you with the resources, support and community you need to reclaim your independence and become more self-reliant in every aspect of your life.

From growing and preserving your own food to crafting and using herbal medicine to life skills like how to manage it all and stay calm in stressful situations, how to prepare for emergency situations and much more, if you’re ready to learn invaluable skills that will help you take control of your family’s food security, health and wellbeing, time, finances, and ultimately over your own future, The Society of Self-Reliance was created for you!

I’m excited to announce that I’ll be reopening the Society doors for a limited time starting next week, and wanted to give you the heads up NOW so that you can get on the waitlist and make sure you don’t miss out when enrollment opens.

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Check out the full interview in the fall issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine: link in bio @anna.sakawsky or visit www.modernhomesteadingmagazine.com to subscribe, login to the library (if you’re already a subscriber) or view a sample of the current issue!

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This is why people don’t trust our medical system!!!

I very rarely go on a rant about current events but this has me feeling really fired up…

My husband and I each got an Amber Alert on our phones the other night along with millions of other British Columbians, informing us of a child abduction in Vancouver. It made the suspect sound like a dangerous kidnapper and said “do not approach. Call 911.”

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Doctors are not gods and as mothers we do not co-parent with the government!!!

This hits close to home for me because I too have been through the medical system and had my concerns dismissed, was misdiagnosed and given wrong information, and was treated with obvious contempt when I got a second opinion.

In this day and age of rampant medical coercion and the erosion of bodily autonomy over our own bodies and over those of our children, this story highlights the dangers of the very slippery slope we’re on.

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I’ve hesitated about posting this reel over and over because I know I’ll probably get backlash, hate and vitriol from some people in return. But I wouldn’t be being true to myself if I didn’t speak the truth that’s on my heart and mind…

If you haven’t noticed, there are currently thousands of Canadians sharing their stories and using the hashtag #trudeaumustgo on their social media posts right now in response to the divisive rhetoric and actions of our prime minister over the past few months. But our media has downplayed the issue and has attributed most of the hashtags to “bot” accounts and foreigners trying to influence our politics.

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The other day when I had a few minutes to spare, I was out in the garden doing a little work when my neighbour said hi over the fence.

I lamented to her about how busy we’ve been and how hard it’s been to keep on top of this year. Very sincerely, she replied “wait until you have another one,” referring to our baby on the way.

“You’ll be moving back to the suburbs so quick, mark my words,” she said.

Now, I don’t for a second think there was any ill intent behind her statement, but still, it took me aback.

“We’ll never move back to the city or the suburbs,” I replied with a laugh. “This may be hard work but we love it.”

She then repeated her statement and followed it up with “just you wait and see.”

I decided not to continue the back and forth. After all, I told myself, it doesn’t matter if she or anyone else knows what’s truly in your heart. It doesn’t matter if she understands that there’s no amount of difficulty that would make me run back to the suburbs and leave this life behind. In fact, our dream is to upgrade to a bigger property someday where we can grow an even bigger garden and add more livestock to our homestead!

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I used to get offended by these questions because I felt unseen; I felt like nobody took this life that I’m so passionate about seriously, and thought it was “cute” that I was “playing farmer” for a bit, but eventually I had to grow up and become part of the “real world” once again.

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Can you relate? How do you (politely) respond when someone questions your lifestyle choices or implies that you’ll eventually come to your senses and come back to “reality”?

Let me know below 👇
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In this issue you’ll find:

• Preparedness tips, tricks and advice to help you be ready for anything on the homestead (and in life!)
•The ultimate guide to growing garlic at home and it as both food and medicine
• Drool-worthy recipes that feature garlic as the star!
• Expert advice from A Farmgirl in the Making’s Ann Accetta-Scott on what to look for (and look out for) when buying or selling a homestead property
• Advice on how to learn and grow from perceived homesteading “failures”

And more!!!

Go to modernhomesteadingmagazine.com or click the link in my bio @anna.sakawsky to subscribe or login to the library and read the latest issue if you’re already subscribed!
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31 3

When I first started homesteading, I had a burning desire to become more self-sufficient and live a more sustainable life.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been a rebel at heart, and learning how to homestead and become more self-reliant was a way for me to “throw a proverbial middle finger to the system” and live life on my own terms.

As a teenager, I was the girl who drove around town with punk rock music blaring from my car, Misfits sticker on the back and studs around my wrists. I felt misunderstood and angsty and like I desperately didn’t fit in with the world I grew up in.

I always knew in my soul that I wanted something different; Something more.

Today I’m the mama with stretch marks on my belly and battle scars on my heart. I’m the woman who gardens and cans food and makes her own tinctures and believes in something greater than herself and fights every day to stay free in a world that feels increasingly engineered to keep us hopelessly dependent.

Today I feel whole and at peace, and connected to a higher power and a higher purpose. I feel like I’ve finally found the place where I belong.

This journey has been about so much more than homesteading for me, and I've learned, lost, gained and loved so much more than I ever could have imagined.

Because, as I've said before, homesteading doesn't happen in a vacuum. Life is always happening at the same time.

This is the full, raw and unfiltered story of my homesteading journey, and how I've gained so much more than a pantry full of food along the way.

Click the link in my bio @anna.sakawsky to read more or check it out here >> https://thehouseandhomestead.com/how-it-started-how-its-going
...

66 5

The news we’ve all been waiting for…

IT’S A BOY!!!

After so many years and too many losses, our hearts are so full and it feels like we are inching closer to our family finally being complete.

I’ve always known in my heart and soul that we were meant to have a girl and a boy. I know, it sounds cliché and very “nuclear family,” but years ago I saw a psychic who told me I would have a girl who loved to be centre stage and had a personality larger than life, very much how our daughter has turned out!

She also said I would have a boy who would be much more introverted and in tune with nature and with his own intuition. That’s yet to be seen, but I’ve always had this unwavering vision of a son and a daughter that fit these descriptions, and my heart has been set on a son ever since we had Evelyn.

Of course, things went sideways for a few years. Shortly after Evelyn was born, I became pregnant again, but we made the heartbreaking decision to terminate that pregnancy at 24 weeks due to a severe medical diagnosis. We lost our son, Phoenix Rain on June 15, 2018. Our hearts were shattered and have never fully healed.

Over the next few years, I had 3 more early miscarriages. None of the doctors knew what was causing them as most didn’t seem to have any sort of genetic explanation. We were told it was “something environmental,” but weren’t given any clues as to what that could be.

After pushing to see several specialists last year (after our most recent loss), and being told once again that there was “nothing wrong with me,” I finally got another opinion and found out I had something called Chronic Endometritis: A low-grade infection in my uterus that I believe in my heart was caused by my c-section with our daughter; A c-section I didn’t want and probably didn’t need, but felt I needed because I was under pressure to make a decision before the surgeon went off duty.

I’ll never know for sure, but when I pushed for more testing and finally got a simple round of antibiotics, the endometritis cleared up. I got pregnant again almost immediately and so far we now have a healthy baby boy on the way.

(Continued in comments…)
...

556 43

We’re living through interesting times. Many people have even used the term “unprecedented times,” and while that may be true in that there has perhaps never been another time in history when we’ve faced so many existential threats all at once (ie. a global pandemic, climate change, political divisions, AI advancing at an incredible rate, cyber attacks, nuclear threats, globalization, food shortages, supply chain issues, hyperinflation, social media and the age of information/misinformation, etc. etc. all converging at once). But despite all of this, we are not the first generation(s) of humans to face hardships and threats of great magnitude, and in fact we’ve had it better than any other previous generations for most of our lives, especially here in the west.

The fact is, there are lots of things we can do to ensure we’re not sitting ducks when these threats come knocking at our door. But it takes action on our part, not waiting around for someone else to fix things or take care of us.

In the Summer issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine, I sat down with The Grow Network’s Marjory Wildcraft to talk all about the realities of our current climate, including worsening inflation and looming global food shortages, as well as what every day people like you and I can actually DO to improve our food security, become more self-sufficient, care for our families and communities and ensure our own survival and wellbeing even in difficult and uncertain times like these.

While I don’t believe in fear mongering, I do believe in acknowledging hard truths and not burying your head in the sand. That being said, things may very well get worse before they get better, and we would all do well to start learning the necessary skills, stocking up on essential resources and preparing now while there’s still time.

Check out the full interview in the summer issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine. Link in bio @anna.sakawsky to subscribe or go to www.modernhomesteadingmagazine.com to subscribe or login and read the current issue.

#foodshortages #selfsufficiency #selfreliance #foodsecurity #foodsecurityisfreedom #homesteading #growyourownfood #fightinflation #stayfree
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