Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Extend Your Growing Season With an Easy to Create Hoop House

The kids and I went over to Growing Hope last weekend to participate in their Seed Starting Squad. I actually have never been there, even though they are minutes from the house, but thought this would make for a nice weekend project. While we were there though we got to tour their beautiful (and large) hot house - It was inside that where I found a great idea for a quickie hoop house. 

I've been thinking about creating a micro-climate where I can extend my growing season, and thought this might be the answer to what I was searching for - The best thing was, we had almost EVERYTHING hanging around in the garage and my home office!  I should note too, that this type of hoop house works with raised bed gardens that have a wooden walls surrounding the beds...

Directions for a Basic Hoop House:
  • Get several 10' lengths of 1/2" PVC pipe
  • A package of 1/2" galvanized 2-hole pipe strap (Look in the plumbing section of your local home improvement store)
  • Screws
  • Clear heavy duty drop cloth (we found a 10'x25' one at Lowes)
  • 1" binder clips or other clips to secure the plastic 
  • A screw driver and scissors 
  • Two sets of hands are necessary to create this hoop house
At the ends of the beds add the pipe strap, you will actually need to srew one side in most of the way and start the second screw - Insert the pipe and tighten the screws. Next add the pipe strap to the second side of the bed only make sure it is slightly loose. Bend the pipe over the bed inserting it into the pipe strap and tighten the screws.  Continue doing this at your desired distance down the beds - In my case there is approximately 5-6' between supports, although I'll admit a 4' distance might have been ideal, so I might alter my hoop house at the end of the season!

Next drape the plastic over the hoops and clip into place.  I opted to cut a separate "doorway" for the ends so that weather permitting I can open the top of them to let some of the hottest air escape. No need to fry the little plants lazing in the warmth...

Obviously this is new to me, but I already have plans in mind for improvements in future hoop houses.  It sure dies make a nice, and inexpensive hoop house though, if I had to purchase everything it would have only cost around $15. It even held up to some pretty strong March winds, although it is somewhat sheltered sitting between tow homes.

So get out and extend your growing season with this easy, and quick, hoop house. You're seedlings and plants will enjoy it, and possibly so will your children!

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