Building a Hoop House
May 28, 2018
By Farmer Alex
Here at Carnation Farms new projects are always on the go and this spring is no exception. The garden has been teeming with activity as last season’s cover crops are incorporated back into the soil and this year’s new plants go in. Part of growing produce here in the beautiful Pacific Northwest is season extension, which means helping our plants get that extra bit of sun or extra hour of warmth and protection in our cooler springs and falls. One way to that is using hoop houses!
We use our hoop houses to not only grow our warm season crops (like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and melons) but we also use them as seedling houses to let our little baby plants get a good head start before the go into the ground.
Hoop Houses and Greenhouses, what’s the difference?
Traditionally, the main difference between greenhouses and hoop houses is that a greenhouse must have some type of temperature control capabilities (this usually means that it is heated) whereas hoop houses don’t have heaters and don’t even always have ventilation. Hoop houses are often used to extend the growing season in a cooler climate by trapping and retaining solar heat, greenhouses on the other hand optimize plant growth by controlling the temperature and often humidity, thereby offering year round production.
There are many different styles of hoop house, ranging from very simple to complex. Frame materials can vary from cattle fencing to wood and to PVC pipe. Some hoop houses are more permanent and others can be moved quite easily. The style we built uses greenhouse plastic stretched over PVC and secured with twine, it is a quick, easy, mobile and inexpensive way to build. The design came to us from the WSU Agriculture Extension Office and can be found here.
Our Hoop Houses
We have three hoop houses on site at Carnation Farms, two small and one long (92 ft) all built using the WSU plans. The hoop houses are comprised of: a wooden end frame, 18 inch lengths of rebar, 18 foot lengths of ½ in PVC pipe, 6 mil polyethylene greenhouse grade clear plastic, and a good quality nylon twine.
We started by constructing one of the ends, this is essentially a wooden doorway with support arms on either side, with a piece of PVC bent over top to create an archway. Once the end is in place the rebar is driven into the ground in line with what will become the edges of the house. Next, we placed one end of each length of PVC onto the exposed rebar and then bend over to the partnering piece of rebar on the other side of the house creating a long archway (this is easiest with a partner). Once all the PVC was up we used twine to secure the hoops to each other and then attached to a T-post at the end of the tunnel. Then we draped the plastic over the PVC creating a nice and toasty hallway, the plastic at the end is gathered into a bundle and twine tied around it to create an end.
To secure to plastic in place we tied the twine to the rebar on one end and then passed back and forth over the top of the tunnel, being anchored to the rebar, creating a crisscrossed pattern on top of the plastic. And Voila! A quick hoop house that can be erected in the course of an afternoon! Guaranteed to keep your plants nice and warm and easy to take apart and store in the winter months.