Winterizing your structure is required. The first picture shows the results of 18 inches of heavy wet snow in May, 2019. Jo is standing between two cattle panel arches that are about 1 foot apart, and were originally a little over 6 feet tall. They had survived multiple rounds of 8-10 inches of light snow while covered with hail cloth. They collapsed under 18 inches of wet snow.
The second picture shows Paul Smith’s (of the garden club) Conduit Arch Hail Tunnel collapsed after an spring snow. Cattle panels covered with hail cloth or greenhouse plastic will withstand some snow, the conduit arch design will collapse under pretty light snow. Wait until the chance of snow has passed before putting the hail cloth up in the spring.
The cattle panel garden can be covered in greenhouse plastic and used over-winter if you install additional bracing. This picture from Paul Smith shows horizontal bracing on the windward side. It was added after the high winds of the bomb cyclone bent the structure. The upright lumber was added to carry a heavy snow load.
The demonstration garden shows a few different ways to enclose the ends of your garden. These solutions address different needs.
A door is a great choice if you are building a greenhouse. The door and the structure can both be wrapped in greenhouse plastic for a winter garden.
The zippered hail cloth is a quick and fairly inexpensive solution if you sew. It completely encloses the bed, which provides strong grasshopper control. However, fully enclosing the bed like this also keeps pollinating insects out of your garden. If you are growing tomatoes (wind pollinated) or greens that’s not a problem. On the other hand, squash won’t set fruit in this environment unless you hand pollinate them.
Plastic fencing is a cheap way to keep the animals out while letting pollinators in. Attach one side of the fence to the arch with twist ties instead of zip ties so you can get in and out of the garden.
The conduit arch has a scrap of hail cloth zip tied to the end across from the door. It does not cover the entire arch, so insects can pollinate the plants, but it does keep the deer and rabbits out.
There are many different ways to garden successfully here in Black Forest. This straw bale garden is another example that addresses our two basic themes – weather protection and critter control.
The garden ends are blocked with cheap plastic fencing that is attached to the t-posts with twist ties. The fence keeps the deer and rabbits out of the garden.
The post in the middle has an eye hook on top. Guy wires run though the eye hook to the t-posts and support the hail cloth tent. There are tennis balls on top of the t-posts so the hail cloth doesn’t rip. The tent won’t convert to an over-winter garden, but it effectively protects the plants from hail.