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Getting Ready for Winter

Last year we cursed as we tried to accomplish so many things with frozen fingers while fighting huge rolls of plastic in the cold wind. This year, Hubby and I took advantage of the many warm days in October to get ready for winter. Number one priority was to build a hoop house for the chickens, followed by hoop houses for the vegetable beds, and tucking the bonsai trees to sleep.

This was what we constructed last winter. It worked for the most part in keeping the girls warm and dry. The zipper you see on the end was our “door”. We had only one collapse from the weight of the snow, but it was easily propped back up again. This year, we decided to do things a little differently. We moved the coop to a more sheltered location under the apple trees, which freed up this whole prime sunny area for growing next spring.

Hubby hammers 1/2-inch rebar into the ground to anchor down the PVC “ribs”.
The hoop house occupies an 8’x12′ foot area.

Great connectors from Lee Valley join the 3/4-inch PVC tubes together.

It all fits together in no time, and can be easily disassembled as well.

Not only is this great for the chickens, it also makes a great, low-cost greenhouse.

Frame is built for the base and door. The PVC is easy to work with as you can screw right through it without cracking or breaking.

What you don’t see is 4-foot wide chicken wire mesh that runs around the perimeter. It’s stapled all along the base, and hinged at the top with short screws in the PVC. In spring, the plastic will be removed, but the chickens will still have their own area. The plastic roof will stay for shelter from the rain.

The cottage “chicken tractor” wrapped in plastic. The snow will pile up halfway up the sides, but luckily the door opens inward, so we can just throw the chickens in when we arrive at Christmas. Hoop house tucked behind, is still producing lettuce, swiss chard, bok choy and spinach. More about growing winter vegetables in a later post.

Jenny liking her new home.

A light on a timer provides a few extra daylight hours. They also like to huddle on the perch underneath the light for warmth.

Besides putting the chickens to bed for the winter, we also needed to put the bonsai trees away too. Instead of in the greenhouse, they are staying outside. It’s more normal I think to have a real winter, instead of Florida winter in the greenhouse where sometimes the inside temperature can reach in the 70’s. This also frees up more valuable shelf space when starting seeds in February.

The trees were placed ontop of the raised bed (I had planted garlic underneath). Hay is tucked all around to provide a nice warm blanket. Come spring, the trees will be moved to allow the garlic to send up it’s delicious curly scapes in June.

The trees should winter just fine in this sheltered spot; burlap is also wrapped to block from the drying wind, just in case.

  • Lisa Cain - You guys are so industrious it puts the rest of us to shame. Well me anyway. And love the look of the hoop house lit up at night. Looks so romantic.ReplyCancel

  • Growing Indoors » FreestyleFarm - […] their gardens this time of year, I feel as though I never stopped. Between the plastic covered hoop tunnels at both home and cottage; and experimenting with microgreens and sprouts with indoor lights, I was […]ReplyCancel

  • Voula - Hiya Jill,
    Do you move the chickens to the cottage in the summer and live with them there? Or do you schlep them along every time you go to the cottage? How does that work?
    Great to see this post. Love the learning you share with us all.
    Best from me to you all, Voula.ReplyCancel

    • Jill - We schlep them back and forth, rabbit, chickens, pig and all!ReplyCancel

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