Monday, March 22, 2010

Hoop Houses

I spent considerable time over the last few weeks trying to get hoop houses up so we can get a head start on vegetables. To buy a production hoop house is a lot of money, which we do not have at the moment, so the exercise has been to try to create one that works for a minimal investment. Last summer we built 2 of them over the tomatoes for a couple of weeks to try to increase the heat available for them to grow. During August, however, the wind is not as big a factor and they did fine last year, but not during March. Our hoop houses are 25 feet long and about 11 feet wide. I used PVC pipe which I spaced at 5 foot intervals and then have a spine going down the middle with 2 pipes extending out every five feet. The end of the PVC pipe is placed over a 2 ft rebar stake that we have in the ground to provide support. We then put plastic over the top to trap the heat. At first I used some bricks to secure the plastic, but that did not work so I moved to cement blocks. That helped a little bit, but a strong wind still blew down the structure. The third attempt was creating a wind barrier at the south facing opening and that again helped a little, but not enough and it all came down again. The fourth attempt, which finally has worked, is taking another concrete block and tying the PVC pipe on the south opening to the concrete block so the wind cannot lift up the structure. I also built a bigger wind barrier to the south of both of our hoop houses to deflect the wind away from the structure. Next time around I am going to face the structures east/west instead of north/south and see if that helps as well. We have 2 hoop houses up and just need to by some more PVC pipe to create a third structure. The cost of this hoop house is about $50, plus the cost of the plastic, which is far cheaper than getting a commercial hoop house.

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