Our Hoop House; An oasis of warm, the smell of grateful soil, friends to share tender young greens.
A number of interested folks have come together to grow this winter. You are welcome to join us, or maybe you are ready to try your own hoop house?!
This week, on a threatening but mostly dry day, a group of 6 of us got together to re-plastic the hoop houses built last year. Here are the basic steps we took to get it up and some general info to help you figure out how you might go about it, too.
First, cost wise, our hoop houses were first constructed last year by our now legendarily-beloved intern, Aaron. His cost for the two – 10×30 foot houses was about $400 for all materials and no labor.
The base is constructed out of 8inch-wide wooden boards screwed into 4×4 wooden posts spaced every 9 feet. The hoops are 1inch diameter “schedule 40” PVC pipe in 18 foot lengths (sold in 20 foot lengths, use a PVC Pipe cutter to shorten to desired length). The hoops are spaced 5 feet apart and are fastened to the boards with pipe straps and 2inch deck screws.
You will also need a door- obviously to enter, but also, this style hoop house uses a fixed door that functions as the main source of ventilation, (combined with the ability to roll up the far end of the plastic in the spring). You will also want to have a min/max-indoor/outdoor thermometer inside one of the houses. These cost about $10 at ACE Hardware. We prop the door open on the uncovered hoop frame during the warmer seasons.
Both houses are covered in 6-mil contractor plastic bought at Lowe’s. The plastic comes in 20×100 foot rolls; this is enough for 2 houses and should last two or three seasons.
So, with the base built, our first step was to center the top PVC pipe that runs the length of the top (connecting all the hoops with plumbers T joints). We lined them up by eye and used plenty of Gorilla tape to keep ‘em where we want ‘em. We leveled the height of the hoops by adjusting their positioning in the pipe straps on the boards.
In the meantime, several volunteers went about prepping the soil. We used a broad fork and shovels to loosen the compacted soil, mixed-in several inches of beautiful compost, and released a good dozen handfuls of compost bin worms who’d been itching for the garden-life from our kitchen scrap bin. We also laid down some hay straw for our center-walking path.
Next came the plastic sheeting; As a group we carried it up and over the hoops, gave ourselves plenty of extra on each side, and began the fixing by rolling scrap wood boards several times in the plastic and then screwing the plastic-wrapped boards to the length side base boards on the outside. This was best done by teams of two. We moved to the second side, and had several folks pull the plastic straight and taught down to the base where we similarly rolled scrap wood boards and screwed them in. Neatness counts, here, and a loose, flappy hoop house cover will be vulnerable to wind-ripping.
The ends are closed by draping and attaching with clamps, additional sheets of plastic weighted by scrap bricks on one end, and stapled to seal up the door on the other. Last steps include taping up any rips and holes in the sheeting.
This winter’s group has yet to decide all the details, but so-far plan on growing one house communally, and portioning the other for individuals to choose what each grows. Much of the harvest will likely be donated, and the group will share the daily bucket-watering and snow removal chores. And we have a fabulous intern; Bree Simons comes to us from Portland, ME through Patagonia’s Environmental Internship Program. As a full time sales associate at Patagonia’s Portland store, Bree is able to have a 10 hour-a week paid internship with us and work at the Salt Lake City Patagonia Store for three months. Nice!
And now, let the planting begin.
For more info on Hoop Houses and Winter Growing, please contact our Youth Program Director, Bill Stadwiser at 801-359-2658 ext 14. To join the volunteer Hoop House Crew email Jenny@wasatchgardens.org, or at ext 11.