Vegetables and herbs grow all around the homestead, but a big portion of the harvest is grown in our four raised beds. They are as attractive as they are functional, but unfortunately we are not the only ones who feel that way. Neighbor cats and our backyard chickens also love the raised beds. The cats think it’s their communal litter box and the chickens would love to chew everything to shreds if left unsupervised.

protected-raised-bedsThe solution I have come up with is to rig plastic hoops over the beds, secured in place with rebar. Bird netting is fixed to them in the spring, summer and fall. Clear plastic is fixed to them in winter, to create mini greenhouses over each raised bed. The process is super simple and the materials are cheap-cheap-cheap.

Rebar hammered into place inside the corner of the raised bed

Rebar hammered into place inside the corner of the raised bed

First, I used three foot thin rebar and hammered them into place on the inside of the raised beds – six total per 4′ x 6′ bed. Hammer one in each corner, then one about halfway down the length of the bed on either side. Mine are hammered down so only about 4-6″ is visible above the soil line. You can’t see them unless you look closely inside the bed.

Placing scrap irrigation pipes over the rebar on either side of the beds, making a hoop

Placing scrap irrigation pipes over the rebar on either side of the beds, making a hoop

Next, I used some salvaged irrigation pvc piping to create the hoops. I placed either end over the exposed rebar, creating a hoop over the 4′ width of the beds. I did this three times per bed.

Rebar in place securing irrigation pipes, creating hoops over the beds

Rebar in place securing irrigation pipes, creating hoops over the beds

The final step is attaching bird netting to the hoops. I tie mine in place with whatever is handy: garden twine, twist ties from bread bags, etc. Make sure it is nice and taut, securing the ends of the beds as well so no critters can crawl in any openings.

Hoops in place, ready for bird netting/greenhouse plastic

Hoops in place, ready for bird netting/greenhouse plastic

If you are using greenhouse plastic or contractor plastic, you can clip them onto the hoops without puncturing the plastic. Just cut some smaller pieces of plastic irrigation, maybe 2-3″ in length. Then cut them in half lengthwise, cutting out about 1/4″ strip. Place the plastic over the hoop, then use the cut piece of plastic to place over the top. It should clap on to the hoop below, holding the plastic in place. It’s basically a DIY version of clamps you could otherwise buy.

Cut a small section of irrigation pipe, about two inches. Then cut about 1/4" strip lengthwise.

Cut a small section of irrigation pipe, about two inches. Then cut about 1/4″ strip lengthwise.

I leave the bird netting all year, so the chickens can free-range without causing too much destruction. The plastic I place on top of the bird netting. That means the hoops are there year round providing protection to all my vegetable goodies growing in the raised beds. How easy is that?

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