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He’s Still Using His Hoop Bender
Speaking of members of our staff, Contributing Editor Jim Ruen of La Crescent, Minn., doesn’t just write about new products and ideas. He puts many of them to work on his southern Minnesota farm.
    “Getting a hoop bender from Loy Robinson at Lost Creek Greenhouse was a best buy. It has been 11 years since I bought one after writing about it (Vol. 33, No. 6), and my wife and I are still using the hoops that I bent back then and many more that I’ve bent since.
    “You can make hoops from pvc pipe and other materials but, as far as I’m concerned, 1/2-in. metal conduit stands up best. Heavy snow is no problem, nor is the sun beating down all summer.
    “The bender consists of 2 tubes in the desired arc bolted down to a flat surface. A retainer at one end holds a 10-ft. length of conduit in place as you draw half of it around the arc, leaving 16 in. straight for a sidewall. Slip the other end of the conduit in the retainer and repeat to make a 4-ft. wide hoop with two 16-in. sidewalls.
    “We use 3 hoops on 8-ft. beds to make low tunnels. The metal conduit hoops protect our plants and extend the Minnesota growing season.
    “When the weather turns cold after plants are in the ground, we toss a row cover or a sheet of plastic over the hoops. When the garlic has only a few weeks to go, we stretch clear plastic over the top of the hoops to keep off rain.
    “Our most productive use of the hoops is to cover fall planted crops. This past December 1st, we harvested the last of fall-grown spinach and lettuce, having eaten salads from the hoop-covered bed for the previous 4 to 6 weeks.
    “Two layers of plastic over the hoops and a layer of frost blanket do their job over winter, no matter how cold it gets. By early March the lettuce and spinach, as well as carrots, onions and beets, are usually taking off.
    “This year we were picking lettuce and spinach by late March. By the middle of April, we were having trouble eating all the greens being produced. By late May, we will be picking young carrots, beets and onions.
    “Robinson sells the bender for 4-ft. hoops for $59.99. He has other benders for narrower and wider hoops. Check them out at www.lostcreek.net or call 903 497-1158.”

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2021 - Volume #45, Issue #3