Low-Cost, Versatile Hoop Houses

Learn how to extend your growing season and earn up to $25,000 an acre!


| February/March 2003



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Row covers can be pulled over smaller hoops for a second layer of protection.


PHOTO: GEORGE DEVAULT

After nearly 20 years of market gardening, we often hear the question, "What would you do differently?"

Simple: Build more — and bigger — hoophouses a whole lot sooner, like from the beginning.

Whether you're a market gardener wanting to extend your season or a family looking to grow more of your own food year-round, a hoophouse is the answer. For as little as a few hundred dollars, a backyard hoophouse can make it seem like you moved your garden hundreds of miles to the south. You can count on four to six weeks of extra production in spring and fall. By adding an inner layer of cover inside a hoop and picking cold-hardy varieties, you can grow right through winter — even in the coldest climates.

What is a hoophouse? Nothing fancy or even expensive, unless you like to make things that way. A hoophouse is just what the name suggests, a series of large hoops or bows — made of metal, plastic pipe or even wood — covered with a layer of heavy greenhouse plastic. The skin is stretched tight and fastened to baseboards with strips of wood, metal, wire or even used irrigation tape and staples. You can build one for a few hundred dollars or a few thousand dollars.

While visiting market gardens from British Columbia to Russia, I have seen serviceable hoophouses made from plastic water pipe and rebar, saplings and rusted bedsprings, fiberglass rods, electrical conduit, strips of old firehose, scraps of plastic ironed together between sheets of newspaper (you can still read the print on the plastic) and old car tires.

Unlike a traditional greenhouse, a hoophouse usually has no heater or ventilation fan. It is heated by the sun and cooled by the wind, providing that you remember to open the vents in the morning and close them in the afternoon. (For growing through winter in cold climates, adding a small heater lets really determined growers laugh at the cold.)

mikemills82
3/13/2016 12:36:08 AM

I used the plans on WWW.EASYGREENHOUSE.INFO and built my own hoop house VERY cheap and easily! It was the best decision I've ever made. To my family and I, it just made economic sense to build a DIY greenhouse. We spent a fraction of the cost of buying an expensive pre-built one that just have to be assembled anyway...why pay inflated prices for material? The guide on that website is so very easy to follow and it doesn't matter if you're a total beginner like us. We were on a very small budget and found so many wonderful plans for our greenhouse...it was hard to pick just one, but the one we chose is terrific! We actually built the one that is featured on the website's homepage. I love growing fruits and vegetables for my family all year round! There's no such thing as out of season for us anymore! I finally have the greenhouse of my dreams and it was VERY affordable!


joshua joshua
9/27/2012 4:52:59 PM

Wow interesting stuff I cant way to try this out next spring. I have always wanted to do a hoop house and i finally have the land to do it on. I live in the south west part of South Dakota if anyone has any suggests for what I should grow. Feel free to follow my blog at http://youngenviromentalist.blogspot.com/ and join me as i post update on building hoop houses and other projects as i attempt to live a sustainable life.


argotmay
1/6/2010 9:34:03 PM

I just wonder what is missing in this sentence: 'In cold weather, Frase seals the of his hoops with plywood walls framed with 2x4s.' Also, a link in there isn't working. If someone has the right one, could you leave it here for folks? Thanks,






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