Destroy My Vegetable Garden? Oh Hail No!

Building and maintaining a garden takes a lot of work. And unless you have a greenhouse, you’re forced to leave your hard work outside to fend for itself against the double-edged sword of the elements. Rain and sun are necessary, but hard, pelting hail is never welcome. Just ask [Nick Rogness]. He didn’t go through all the trouble of building a 12’x12′ garden and planting tasty vegetables just to have Mother Nature spew her impurity-filled ice balls on it every other night during the summertime.

[Nick] did what any of us would do: fight back with technology. His solution was to build a retractable roof that covers the garden with a heavy duty tarp. A Raspberry Pi Zero W controls pair of linear actuators via motor controllers, and [Nick] put a limit switch in each of the four corners to report on the roof status. He can run the roof manually, or control it with his phone using MQTT. The whole thing runs on a 12V marine battery that gets charged up by a solar panel, so part of the interface is dedicated to reporting the battery stats.

[Nick] ran out of time to implement all the features he wanted before the season started, but there’s always next year. He has big plans that include soil moisture sensors, rain detection sensors, and an automatic watering system that collects and uses rain water. We planted the bite-size demo video for you after the break — just wash the dirt off and you’re good to go.

Maybe someday [Nick] will create a system that can automate the entire garden, like the FarmBot. Hey, we’re just trying to plant seeds of ideas.

Via Raspberry Pi blog

13 thoughts on “Destroy My Vegetable Garden? Oh Hail No!

      1. In general I would think anyone with enough money to have solar panels would also have enough to have additional measures to protect them. Same with electric cars and their associated costs.

        1. Our house has solar panels that were installed in about 2010. They were installed by the previous owner so i don’t know any specs, just that as rooftop solar panels go, they are pretty old. Last week we had 40mm hail (i estimate – a little bigger than a golf ball) and the panels are fine.

          Are there ratings for solar panels? Like a guarantee that they’ll tolerate some given diameter of hail?

  1. Need that here not for the hail but to keep the sun off in the middle of summer to stop the plants burning to a crisp as they have done this year.

    I hope he ha solans to add a support in the middle or the hail will have a tendency to pool in the tarp. It will rip and crush his veggies.

    1. Agreed. A ridge in the middle to encourage run-off would solve that problem, without too much effort, and without getting in the way of the existing mechanism. Weld the supports for the ridge inside the movement of the arms, and you’re good to go!

      1. He’d be better off building side rails in the shape of the arc that the arm follows. He has no room for his plants growing at present either. Use something like shower curtain rings to keep it on the arc-ed rails.

  2. My brother’s implementation of this is to have a big piece of 6mm hardware cloth hanging over his tomatoes. Sun and rain go right through, but any hail larger than 6mm doesn’t, and because it’s hanging freely it can swing and bounce so it doesn’t get damaged by big hits. It’s lived through 30mm hailstones and got bent up but he straightened it back out afterwards. No moving parts, lasts for years. I will say I like this design a lot, and it has some big advantages in that it could be deployed if tomatoes are getting sunburnt, driven by a moisture sensor, but if you’re cheap and in a hurry a hardware cloth roof has some advantages.

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