For several years, I’ve researched about a bazillion different ways for making our garden more resilient in the face of increasing extreme weather – drought, hail, heat, flooding. Criteria for solutions:
- Relatively inexpensive
- Easy to install and use in a small urban garden
- If at all possible, solutions need to serve multiple functions (a permaculture principle)
- Functions included shade, heat and hail protection, cold framing or hoop housing to protect cold-weather crops, as well as a trellis for vining crops – all in an intensively planted square-foot garden.
After sorting through scads of ideas and scouring the web, we finally settled on using 16’ x 4’ 3” steel cattle panels anchored with t-posts to make archways over our garden beds. The steel-gauge frames in combo with shade cloth will serve all of the functions mentioned above, and we plan to experiment with them as a mini-hoop house using heavy gauge plastic over the frames this winter.
After installing the cattle panels, we discovered a function we didn’t plan on … the graceful arches make a mighty fine kitty jungle gym.
Sometimes the best laid plans can hold pleasant surprises too.