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Old July 28, 2013   #1
goodwin's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Espanola, New Mexico
Posts: 594
Default quick and easy hoophouse

It's too late for spring planting, of course, but this one I built will be useful into the fall as temperatures drop.
We've tried a number of different methods for protecting seedlings in the field.
I've pulled plastic over a pvc frames and built more permanent wood structures with doors and corrugated fiberglass. Many of my early attempts were torn up in the spring windstorms and relocated somewhere in Kansas.
I've had to get creative, and here is the best solution I've come up with.
This 9x40 foot hoophouse took the better part of a day to build.
And when the winds howled, this structure stayed put.
Here it is ready for planting.

You can buy these 16 foot cattle panels at a good farm supply company. I have used them for years to support vining crops - and to fence cattle!
They are heavy welded rod, but are quite flexible. Here they are simply pulled into a hoop shape and attached using fence staples to the inside of a 1x6 perimeter board. The perimeter frame is anchored with 3/8 rebar driven into the ground. A steel t-post is driven at each end for additional stability. My finished hoop is 6 foot tall at the center and 9 foot wide.
You can change those dimensions, gaining height at the expense of width.
Half inch electrical conduit is used at the ridge to attach several of these sections together. You could simply run the cattle panels continuously and wire them together, but I was trying to save money by leaving a space between each panel. Make sure the welded rod is turned so the vertical strands are on the outside so that there are no sharp edges.
Then stretch some good greenhouse fabric over the panels and tack it down securely to the frame. I use 6 mil anti-condensation, infrared reflecting film, but anything with decent transparency and strength will work. The best way to attach it is to use a roll of the plastic pipe hanging tape used by plumbers. One inch wood screws are driven though the holes in the pipe hanging tape and sandwich the fabric between the tape and the top edge of the 1x6. Rope or webbing will also work instead of the plastic tape. I also used a cinch strap at each end to hold the fabric and the extra fabric on the ends makes a flap for entering.
I cut 2 foot by 2 foot square ventilation flaps later at 6 foot intervals near the top and ran duct tape around the edges. They seal with velcro strips. This is critical. The heat buildup on a sunny day is unbelievable and will fry everything inside.
This will protect things in freezing weather, but I have a small propane tank for the gas grill that helped when the temperatures dropped below 20 degrees.
Later on when the days warm up the fabric can be pulled and shade cloth or hail protection pulled over the panels. You can also easily disassemble the sections and use the panels as a trellis for other crops like cucumbers and beans.
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Old July 30, 2013   #2
Cole_Robbie's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Illinois, zone 6
Posts: 8,257

I like your ideas a lot.

There is a product called "batten tape" that is a simply strip of vinyl on a roll. It's used for stapling greenhouse plastic to wood. I have had good luck with it.

You could always run a 2x4 down each side about 3-4 feet off the ground, attach the plastic to that, and then make roll-up sides. I use chain link top rail as the pipe to roll the sides up on. You can hold down the plastic with sand bags when the sides are not rolled up.

Good luck with everything, and once again, I like your design ideas very much.
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