Organic Emily

Extending the Growing Season with Hoop Houses

Hoop House 6

I did a post on hoop houses last year and wanted to share it again.  Making a hoop house is very simple and inexpensive!  You can extend your growing season from 3-5 months if you do it right.   Hoop houses and cold frames act as “cold storage” since the crops aren’t growing once the days get shorter and there is less sunlight.  We made our hoop frames towards the middle of October just before it froze, however I don’t suggest waiting that long.  We got lucky, it was a warm fall.   We decided to extend the growing season by making hoop houses over 2 of our grow boxes.  I had a different idea in mind when we put these together.  I thought we would be able to fit the pipes into T fittings and it would hold.  However, they ended up snapping and breaking so we ended up making some inexpensive adjustments.  A year later they are still going strong, so I know it worked!  Here’s what you’ll need:

Materials

8 – 1/2 inch PVC pipes (for 2 4×8 boxes)

12 small metal brackets( from the electrical isle of Home Depot) with screws to anchor pipe to grow box (see picture below)

Wire to wrap the pipes together

Painters plastic as thick as you can find it (6-8ply)

Clamps for holding down the plastic

Heavy fabric row covers for additional insulation

Hoop House 1

You will need 4 (10 foot) 1/2-inch pipes for 2 – 4×8 garden boxes.

Hoop House 2

Loosely secure 6 metal brackets onto the grow box.   3 on each side, measuring evenly between all 6.

Hoop House 3

Slide the PVC pipes into place and secure the screws tightly.  If you put them together on a cooler day, try setting them out in the sun to warm them up so they are less likely to break.

Hoop House 4

Cut an additional pipe into 3 sections fitted and measured to be secured in between each hoop. Your measurements may be different from mine.

Hoop House 5

Fit the 1/2 inch pipe into a T and secure to hoop with heavy duty wire. Pipe must be cut to fit into the 3 T’s.

Hoop House 6

Frame is secured down and ready for use!

Hoop House 7

You will need the heaviest plastic you can find.  This is 6 ply.  If you can find 8 ply, that is even better.  Cut to fit the box so it hangs past the ground.

Hoop House 8

Secure with clamps or extra squash (just for demonstration :)…   Be sure to check the weather and give the plants air to breath especially if it gets over 40`, they can cook!

Hoop House 9

For an additional 8 degrees of protection you can use fabric row cover.  I place this over my crops and then put the plastic over the hoops.  I purchase mine at Steve Reagan (500w and about 3900s in Salt Lake City).  The last time you will water is about mid-November.  Be sure to harvest out of your “cold storage” when the temps are above 32 degrees in the winter if they are still going strong (it depends on where your garden boxes are placed in the yard).  South-facing protected area up against a fence or building is best.  For more information on year-round gardening check out one of my favorite books called “The Year-Round Gardener” by Nikki Jabbour.

Emily Saddler

Emily is a Master Gardener, wife of a professional landscape contractor, Mom of 4 cute kids, Yoga instructor and very passionate advocate of organic home-grown food! Emily maintains a blog called “The Organic Suburban Farm Girl” where she shares gardening advice, delicious recipes made with fresh, organic ingredients and her escapades as the keeper of both backyard chickens and honeybees!

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