Build This Easy Hoop House to Grow More Food

Extend your season like never before for less than $1,000.

| October/November 2011

  • Hoop House Greenhouse
    Matt Moody and Paula Davidson’s hoop house in Cabot, Vt., is 12 feet wide by 16 feet long.
    PHOTO: SYLVIA SMITH
  • Hoop House Floor
    Worm composting bins under a hinged floor make a hoop house pathway multi-use.
    HARVEY USSERY
  • Hoop House Shadecloth
    In areas where summer heat is an issue, a shade cloth covering on your hoop house can help you grow more crops than you could otherwise.
    FOTOLIA/DARDANELLA

  • Hoop House Greenhouse
  • Hoop House Floor
  • Hoop House Shadecloth

Gardening inside a hoop house is like moving part of your land hundreds of miles south, all for a modest investment in materials and time. It’s proof that a bit of simple technology can definitely go a long way.

Hoop houses are greenhouses made by covering a plastic or metal hoop structure with one layer (or sometimes two) of clear plastic. They are low-tech and low-cost compared with glass greenhouses.

Hoop houses give benefits throughout your growing season — far more than just the obvious advantage of protection from frost. Decreased wind pressure on seedlings, more humid growing conditions and higher internal concentrations of carbon dioxide during the main part of the season are reasons why they deliver better food, and more of it. For northern gardeners, hoop houses also bring the reality of spring planting and nurturing closer to the actual time the late-winter gardening enthusiasm naturally kicks in. The warmth and serenity of a hoop house offers a pleasant space to work, rest and recharge yourself, too. Hoop houses with roll-up sides and shade cloths even deliver benefits in hot climates by providing variable amounts of protection from blistering sun.

Although hoop houses are structurally simpler than greenhouses, a successful layout still requires planning and care. Building a hoop house that ages gracefully demands construction details that aren’t immediately obvious. The tried-and-true design outlined here will ensure you enjoy the perks of your hoop house for years to come.



Before you begin, get specific about what you want to accomplish. Are you just looking for a small space to nurture seedlings? Do you envision a hoop house you can walk into? Do you plan to make roll-up sides to regulate heat? You can incorporate all of these features into the build-it-yourself design here.

Location and Orientation

Any hoop house requires a flat, level and well-drained site. Even moderate winds exert a lot of force on a hoop house, so choose a location sheltered by tree cover or other buildings if possible. Because excess heat within the hoop house during summer will be an issue even in northern regions, orient your hoop house so the ends align with prevailing winds for maximum ventilation. Choose a location with deep, stone-free soil to make anchoring the structure much easier.

KCG
3/15/2018 4:21:19 PM

I was just about to order some greenhouse film from Johnny's seeds and they had this warning: Polyethylene (PE) greenhouse film used over polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipes may or may not react with the PVC, degrade, lose its integrity, and tear. Johnny's Selected Seeds does not recommend and does not warranty the use of Tufflite IV film for any applications in direct contact with PVC. Much better to make it out of EMT.


KCG
3/15/2018 4:20:56 PM

I was just about to order some greenhouse film from Johnny's seeds and they had this warning: Polyethylene (PE) greenhouse film used over polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipes may or may not react with the PVC, degrade, lose its integrity, and tear. Johnny's Selected Seeds does not recommend and does not warranty the use of Tufflite IV film for any applications in direct contact with PVC. Much better to make it out of EMT.


bowen
1/29/2018 6:04:56 PM

I'm very much into 'open source', & this being so important a matter to promote home gardening, I believe you should, by rights, provide the plans & info w/o regards to subscription. It's a 'fail' to me if this is with-held...BR....







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