How To Build: HOOP HOUSE
by Gary Sanders, Master Gardener
- The size is quite flexible; it can be any length you want. I would not however make it any wider than 4 feet,
or what span you can easily reach halfway across. The reason for this is you do not want to step on the soil
once you have done the original tilling. Compacting the soil is not a good practice.
- Ideally you want to have a raised bed of some sort, with or without sides and ends. Without sides you will
consistently need to build it up to a reasonable height.
- The sides in the sample are 8 feet 2x8s, and the ends were slightly smaller than 4'x4'. You could use
bricks, railroad ties, rocks or almost anything else you have lying around, be creative, that way you can call
it your own. The corners can simply be nailed or screwed together anyway that will keep them from coming apart. You might
want to consider making it higher, around 18" or so, I found out that the older I get the farther it is to ground.
- The hoops used for the outside hoop were 10' schedule 40 PVC pipe. The inside is the same thing cut down to
7'. You could use a heavier gauge, and use a hair dryer to make them more flexible. I also used a size larger PVC for
the short pieces I used for the bottom, to fasten the hoops onto. You also could cut some re-rod of the same inside diameter
as your pipe, and simply drive it part way into the ground and place your hoops over them.
- The reason for the 2 sets of hoops, is that if they were both covered with a heavy gauge cover of the type
used for hoop houses, you will gain the equivalent of a zone and one half for each layer. If you look in a catalog
that sells covers for garden useage, you will find many different types for many different uses. It depends on what
you are trying to accomplish, for example, do you want to keep the cold out or the sun off.
- To hold the cover on, most users simple make the cover long enough to lie on the ground and put sand bags or bricks or some
such weight to keep the wind at bay.
- One thing to remember is that this is a system that cannot be ignored. You cannot plant your seeds and then take off for
Florida for a week or 2; it's almost like a pet in that it must be tended to every day. With a plastic cover on it, the
temperature can get so hot that it over heats the plants, so you need a way to lift or roll the cover up to let the air in. Also when flowering,
the pollinators need to be able to get in and do their magic.
- This is a great device for winter plantings of cool season crops.
- Don't be afraid to experiment, have fun, and happy growing.