Can You Say, “Hoop”?

Last spring I was inspired by Dana’s post on cold frames/hoop houses over at the Druid’s Garden. Though we didn’t have enough money in the budget for these in the community garden last year, I really wanted to make sure we didn’t go another season without them. So last weekend myself, my mother-in-law, and three other folks put in about four hours and constructed a nice batch of hoop houses for four of the raised beds in the community garden.

Half-inch conduit brackets hold the PVC in place.

Working off of Dana’s notes and a few random pieces of advice gathered by Google-fu, I designed these to rest just on top of the soil of the raised beds, making them 3.5′ by 6′ in size. I hadn’t used a circular saw since stage crew in high school, but it came back pretty quickly. The best piece of advice I got from Dana’s post was to use these nifty little conduit brackets from the electrical section of the hardware store to serve as guides for the PVC pipes (1/2″ diameter). The PVC slides right into them, allowing the frame to be anchored in the soil once outside.

Materials (for one frame, around $20-$25):

*20′ of 2×3 (we got some of ours from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, which salvages lumber from construction sites)
*3 8′ pieces of 1/2″ PVC (hoops should be roughly double the width of the frame)
*8’x10′ piece of heavy plastic sheeting
*12 conduit brackets
*8 3″ screws (hold frame together)
*24 3/4″ screws (attach brackets)
*Staple gun & staples
*Drill
*Circular saw
*Tape measure

First, measure out all your pieces. Then on the long boards, place and mark where the brackets will fall (one of our group made a template out of a short piece of PVC with two brackets taped to it, which made this step really fast and easy): two sets should be about an inch from the ends, and the third set should be right in the middle (3′ mark). Use a drill to then fix all the brackets in place with 3/4″ screws.

Next, using the 3″ screws, attach the two long sides and two short sides together to make a rectangle. Insert the PVC into one set of brackets, bending it until it slides into the set directly across. It should be starting to look like a hoop house now!

Finally, take the plastic sheeting and mark the halfway point on the short side. Match this to the center point of the short side of the frame, and then double over the edge and staple in place. Work from the center to the edges on one short side, then the other; lastly, repeat this on the long sides, miter the corners and voilà! You are the proud owner of your own hoop house!

A finished hoop house!

 

Forsythia

Apologies for the lateness of this episode of the Pagan Blog Project. Sickness and cold frame construction interfered with my usual writing schedule.

Ah, Forsythia, the perfect Ostara flower! Seeing this bright lady set her buds was once of the first signs of spring when I was growing up. My father would gather branches of it and stick them in vases  throughout the house, bringing the first flowers of spring inside. During grade school, my friends and I made a small hut under its sheltering branches, naming it the “House of Four Sister,” which we imagined to be the hidden secret of forsythia’s name.

Later, when I worked at a garden center, I would shake my head in amazement every spring as swarms of landscapers loaded up their trucks with dozens of forsythia shrubs, priced at $10.99 each—this is one of the simplest plants to root and propagate. The idea that someone would pay upwards of $200 for an instant hedge of what would likely take over the garden was a great source of amusement for most of the greenhouse crew.

Mostly an asian species, forsythia is named for Scottish botanist and head royal gardener, William Forsyth (a somewhat more mundane source than what my friends and I imagined). It doesn’t have any uses in Western herbal medicine that I could find, but one variety, Forsythia suspensa, is one of the 50 Fundamental Herbs in traditional Chinese medicine. The green fruit, sans seeds, is used in herbal preparations. It is thought to be bitter and cold, and thus associated with heart, lung, and gallbladder meridians. It is used to treat fever and headache, as well as to detoxify the body.*

Magically, I’m on my own for this plant. Neither Cunningham, Beyerl, or Hopman have anything to say about the nature of Forsythia. Because of its bitter/cold nature, I’d first associate it with Air, and then Mercury, as it helps to move things through the body. This is further reinforced by its early Spring bloom time and expansive rooting tendencies.

*Usual disclaimer: don’t take medical advice from a blog on Druidry. There are better and more creative ways to win a Darwin Award.

Practicing Together #3

Seed thought taken from Leaning into Mystery: Practicing Together #8.

I noticed the bird calls increasing. I actually had a lot of fun figuring out what birds were around me by their songs. The list included chickadees, sparrows, blue jays, crows, and pileated woodpeckers.

I also became aware of the different way in which Saturn’s energy manifests in my life. Realizing that my disciplined, responsible side is complementary to my melancholy side was a big shift. Now if I can just figure out how to transmute one into the other….

This week, I invite in lightness. Lightness of thought, of spirit, and grace of body.

Ways this could happen: Acknowledging physical/literal light in ritual, and bringing that awareness into my being as well.

What went well: I designed part of my new altar area and got supplies to start making paintings of the planetary symbols. I didn’t get to spend as much time everyday in front of the woo!altar, but I did have one or two very intense workings with it which help solidify my vision for the space.

Updates: Replacement copy of The Sorcerer’s Secrets came in the mail, which means I might actually be able to finish up the last of the SS homework. Ovate tutor still not written, but this next week is not the time to invite in “dumb stuff fast.” I’ll have to postpone that one as well. ;p