Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
I am both proud and happy to say that the hoophouse is completely installed!
The installation workshop that was held May 18-19 and coordinated by the University of Missouri Extension was very helpful. There was a turnout of close to a dozen people to help and learn about how a hoophouse goes together. And, as with all things farming, it didn't go without snag.
Rain Slowed Us Down!
The first day of the workshop went slow because by mid morning we were getting quite a shower of rain leaving us all chilled and worn out by lunchtime. By then we had gotten all the arches in and had put up the 2x6x12 hip boards and ground boards. We weren't able to work at getting any pylons put up that afternoon due to the rain, even though it had stopped raining. Water on all the metal parts posed a severe slip hazard that would make it too risky. Several friends helped that afternoon with some preliminary side curtain chores, though. I was a little discouraged after the first day because at the hoophouse workshop I attended a few months previous we installed all the pylons connecting the hoops, had the side curtains up on one side and one end wall completed on the first day. So, I was hopeful that we would accomplish a lot on day two.
The weather was better, thankfully, though too windy to do any plastic covering. We did get the pylons in place and were able to almost complete one end wall construction and get both of the side curtains in place. It was a lot of work. The instructions weren't always accurate and even though some of us had been to previous installations, there was still a lot of speculation of the correct way to put together parts of it. The process of putting all the parts of it in place was quite confusing at times. It was a fun atmosphere, though, and as we worked we took plenty of time for lunch and visiting and my mom and I made sure we had plenty of food and drink on hand. Of course gardeners and farmers always have plenty to talk about whether it is planting, growing or even eating good food!
After the installation workshop there was still plenty to do before getting the plastic pulled over. The endwalls had to be completed and covered, and all the c-channel that actually holds the plastic in place had to be installed over the entire hoop at both ends. It really seemed like an endless project. We did a little at a time, though, and before long we could see the light at the end of the tunnel.
The weather here quickly turned to hot summer weather after we had those cool rainy days of the installation workshop. With the heat came, at times, less wind. I hoped to pull the plastic over during one of these times. Unsuccessfully I scheduled a get-together to pull the plastic over and had to postpone because the wind would not settle, but just a few days later we made plans again, for an evening, and it happened that the air was still enough to tackle that final job.
Last Task: Cover It All With Plastic!
First we had to finish one end all covering with plastic. The ends are covered with a slightly lighter plastic than the 6mm roof covering plastic. The end plastic goes up and then is nailed onto all the 2x4 framing with a nylon trim that is nailed on with roofing nails every 4-6 inches. This trim keeps the nails from ripping through the plastic sheeting. The end wall plastic goes up and over the end hoops and fit into the c-channel that the roof plastic will lay over and be fastened into.
The roof plastic roll was very heavy. A couple of us rolled it out across the entire side of the hoophouse. Once we made sure that there was about 3 feet overhang on each end, we cut the length of it with a box-knife.
How To Get 72' of Plastic Over the Hoophouse:
We unfolded about 6 feet of the plastic. The length was roughly divided into 5 sections in which we gathered a wad of plastic and tied a length of cord around then threw it over and to the other side of the house. After each of these cords were tossed over the sides and held and pulled we started moving the plastic over the house. We did it slowly, always making sure there was no snagging or that it was going up unevenly. Once it was completely over we checked to keep the excess amount of plastic about even on both sides (ended up with about 2 feet hanging off both sides that was later trimmed). Starting at the middle and working out to the ends we fastened the “wiggle wire” into the c-channel that holds the plastic onto the hipboards. Hands were all the time holding the ends and both sides to ensure a constant tension. The same thing was done on the other side. At the ends we started the “wiggle wire” on the peak of the outside hoop. It was a little harder to get the wire going into the c-channel because of the extra bulk from the endwall plastic being underneath the roof plastic.
What a relief to have that done!
It was almost 10 pm that night, but we ate roasted hot dogs and hamburgers and drank homemade rootbeer (that my son, Caleb, had made) and celebrated a job completed! A fellow farmers market friend, Sara, knew the satisfaction because of how she felt when hers had been completed that February. We were all smiling and laughing and very amused and impressed with ourselves. I was so very thankful to have friends, family and neighbors willing to come and help.
Now for the fun part; planting and experimenting in my new hoophouse!
photo credit: Alice Leverich took all the photos. caption from top: the completed hoophouse. setting the hoops into the posts. working on the cordwork that will encase the roll down side curtains. installing pylons to connect hoops and working on curtain cranks. completed end wall construction. inside view of working on end wall plastic. outside view of end wall plastic. pulling plastic over hoophouse. inserting wiggle wire into c-channel to hold plastic. holding the plastic taut on the other side. picture of that evening's sunset (my mom is notorious for taking sunset pictures).