In cold climates, a greenhouse or hoophouse is a must if you want to grow spring, summer and fall crops. Last winter, Cheyenne and Sean built a large hoophouse, then designed an irrigation system that catches rainwater from the roof to provide water to hugelkultur raised beds inside the structure. The water is stored in two 1,000-gallon tanks on each side of the hoophouse. French drains running along each side of the greenhouse connect to French drains on the inside that run under each raised bed.
To form the beds, about 1 foot of soil was removed, 6 inches of gravel put down, 6 inches of decaying wood from the farm, 8 to 12 inches of soil and hay as mulch. The wood wicks up the moisture and keeps the soil damp. A piece of PVC pipe was stuck into the gravel layer in each bed to check water infiltration and to drop in a hose if the bed needs water.
This article was originally published in The NEW PIONEER™ Spring 2016 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions here.