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New In the Garden: Hoop Houses

March 7th, 2009

For all of you who guessed a hoop house you’re right. Well, kind of, we added hoops to our raised beds (so not a proper hoop house, but 5 mini hoop houses).
working-on-the-hoop-houses
attaching-hoopsattaching-hoops-to-raised-beds
We added these to help extend the growing season. I don’t have room to add a big walk-in greenhouse like Eliot Coleman in Four-Season Harvestso I decided to go this route. Since my spinach did so well under a floating row cover, I thought doing hoop houses in addition to the floating row covers should allow me to extend the season throughout most of the winter.
hoop-houses-on-raised-beds
I’m planning on covering these with plastic here in the next couple days and this should help warm the soil so I can plant things even earlier. They should also help protect early tomatoes from frost. In the summer I plan on adding netting to these to keep the deer and rabbits out of my crops, so they will be very handy in all seasons!
raised-beds-with-hoops1
How much did they cost? The tubing was $2.19 each and we used 4 per raised bed (our beds are 4×10). With the tubing and the clamps to attach them it cost about $10-$12 per raised bed, not bad if you ask me!

Do you do anything to extend the season? Anyone else using hoop houses or hoping to?

For details instructions on how we built our hoop houses see this post.

42 Comments to “New In the Garden: Hoop Houses”
  1. Matron on March 7, 2009 at 5:05 am

    That looks wonderful! I wish I was that handy with a screwdriver! I managed to salvage quite a few of those large blue plastic bottles from the office water dispenser.. I cut of the bottoms and they make good mini-covers for my tender veggies.

    Matron’s last blog post.. Spring is Springing!

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  2. Mangochild on March 7, 2009 at 7:49 am

    I would *love* to do hoop houses (I have raised beds too), but as Matron, my skills with a screwdriver are, well, generously put, non-existent (blush). Plus, as a newbie, I am nervous enough with the “regular” basics of gardening. But floating row covers are something I’d like to experiment with on at least a few beds – I’ve heard so many good things about them, and the concept makes sense….

    Mangochild’s last blog post.. Independence Days Challenge: Week 4

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  3. Susy on March 7, 2009 at 8:18 am

    Some do use PVC, then it bends easily (no using a pipe bender). We decided to do pipe because we try to stay away from plastic, we figured they would last longer, and they should hold up better under snow (I’ve seen photos of peoples PVC hoop houses collapsed under the snow).

    Reply to Susy's comment

  4. Judy on March 7, 2009 at 8:32 am

    Those look great. One of the downsides of sharing a garden is that I can’t do something quite so permanent. Maybe I’ll have to see if I can talk him into raised beds. They would certainly be easier to keep weed free. Hmm.

    Judy’s last blog post.. Name change

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  5. Teri on March 7, 2009 at 11:16 am

    They should work swimmingly:) I am using plain old plastic and making some cold frames.

    Teri’s last blog post.. 65/365

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  6. Pampered Mom on March 7, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    What a fantastic idea! We follow the whole SFG method which includes an option for something like this. We haven’t taken advantage of it before, but definitely should this year. Thanks for the reminder!

    Pampered Mom’s last blog post.. Patching Jeans

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  7. Allie on March 7, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    Those are great!

    Allie’s last blog post.. An Interview with Douglas Farquhar from ReJAVAnate

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  8. The Crone on March 7, 2009 at 6:07 pm

    I so have to do this for next summer. I lost all of my tomatoes this year, boiled toms on withered vines are saddening.

    The Crone’s last blog post.. 30 Minute Mozzarella

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  9. Chicago Mike on March 7, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    Very Cool!

    Mr Chiots looks very happy to be outside!

    Chicago Mike

    Reply to Chicago Mike's comment

  10. Susy on March 7, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    Oh yes, we really enjoyed spending some time out in the sun.

    Reply to Susy's comment

  11. Dan on March 7, 2009 at 7:44 pm

    Good thinking picking the metal as appose to PVC. PVC is not very stable, blows in the wind and collapses under heavy snow. I am not sure if you have selected any clear poly yet but I have found a place that sells clear 11mil poly. It is nice and thick as well as UV resistant. They sell scraps really cheap that fit these hoop covers, just e-mail them if you are interested. Here is the link: http://www.northerngreenhouse.com/

    I have been slowly building a smaller cedar poly tunnel, 4’Lx3’Wx2’H. I am hoping to have it ready to use this spring but who knows with me. I am going to permanently attach the plastic to the ends and then attach the top piece with velcro to have easy roll-up access and make it more wind resistant.

    Dan’s last blog post.. Spring Already?

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  12. Susy on March 7, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    Thanks Dan, I’ll be sure to check them out! I’m super excited to get some plastic on these and start the soil warm-up.

    Reply to Susy's comment

  13. John Walters on March 7, 2009 at 11:36 pm

    Hoop house are definitely the way to go.
    Have you thought of using 1″ irrigation poly pipe for the hoops? For small ones like this they require no bracing and should be reasonably inexpensive (or even free – see below)
    If anyone cares to have a look at the hoop houses in our garden they can go to our web site http://www.veggiecare.com
    Our first hoops were made from poly pipe that was being thrown out because it had been run over once too often and there were more splits than were worth repairing, so we got it for free! Splits are not important to us as we have no water running through our pipes.
    Cheers
    John

    Reply to John Walters's comment

  14. Lynn on March 8, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    I love, love, love your site. It’s just what I was looking for. I saw your post on GRS. Thanks for sharing the URL!

    Reply to Lynn's comment

  15. warren on March 9, 2009 at 10:56 am

    I have a couple of window wells and I am hoping to build mini green houses around them to give me a barrier to the window inside as well as a way to extend the season…we’ll see how it goes!

    warren’s last blog post.. The other girls in my life

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  16. Freija Fritillary on March 9, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    Great work in the garden. Love your hoop houses, and the cold frame. Exciting spring with your bees on the way too! It’s great to take a look at what you are up to. We are still up to three feet in snow! But the seedlings are sprouting and the promise of spring is on the way. Although we sometimes have to wait unitl May to see the ground again!

    Freija Fritillary’s last blog post.. Every 3 Seconds

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  17. inadvertent farmer on March 12, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    I’m going to put mini hoops over some of my beds also…I’m am going to use a stiff wire mesh because in the past when I used hoops like yours the horrid rains we get here always collapsed them…no matter how tight I pulled the plastic.

    Good luck with your’s…they look great! Kim

    inadvertent farmer’s last blog post.. Winter’s Only Rose

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    • Hans Kurr on April 26, 2009 at 11:45 pm

      Just wondering whether you’re planning to use chicken wire mesh and whether you’ll go for “x1″ or 2″x2″?
      Hans

      Reply to Hans Kurr's comment

  18. BRRR it’s Cold! | Chiot's Run on March 22, 2009 at 4:46 am

    [...] not rare to have snow in April, which isn’t good for my little plants. That’s one reason we put hoop houses up over our raised beds; this should help greatly with this challenge. On the bright side it’s going to be nice today [...]

    Reply to BRRR it’s Cold! | Chiot’s Run's comment

  19. Hans Kurr on April 25, 2009 at 11:50 pm

    Here in the Adirondacks (northern NY) we’re starting our first-ever garden (12’x4′ raised beds), so pardon possibly dumb catching-up questions:

    First, specifically what metal are the hoops made of? Looks like some sort of nickel alloy, don’t think it could be just aluminum (too weak, right?). Also, how long is each hoop and about how high above the bed do you have them at the center (2 1/2 feet)? As for the $ 2.19 each, did you go to a Home Depot, Lowe’s, Ace Hardware, catalog..?

    Do you use 6-mil poly?

    Finally, for our home we’ve boosted energy conservation A LOT by stretching aluminum foil across our attic fiberglass. We’re wondering whether you & fellow-growers think there’s merit in trying to put alu foil to work over our raised beds in concert with hoops, wire mesh (heavy snows &, on our 2000-ft. ridge top, wild winds), maybe even closer spacing of the hoops (say, every 2 ft. instead of your 3.3?) and heavy-gauge poly. Our idea is to try taping 4-ft.-wide foil to a thin (wooden or light-metal) pole — that’d make 3 such poles to cover a 12-ft. bed — and then, on spring/fall evenings with frost in the air, rolling the foil across the poly…to try to get the same 97% reflection pf radiated heat we get in our home, the only difference here being (we think) that we’d be throwing back down into the “mini-hoop-house” warmth absorbed during the day by the raised-bed soil… instead of energy generated by our wood stove.

    Think we’re making sense here – – – or just tryin’ to spit in the wind???

    Hans

    Reply to Hans Kurr's comment

    • Susy on April 26, 2009 at 8:28 am

      The hoops are made of the electrical conduit that you buy at the home improvement stores. It cost us like $2 for each piece, so that makes for very inexpensive hoops. It’s also very sturdy, I think it will hold up very well to rain/wind/snow. Each piece is 10 ft long and we just bent them that length, so they’re probably 3/4 feel tall above the bed in the middle. We wanted them a little taller so we could stretch plastic over them while there were larger crops in them, like tomatoes & peppers. That way we can plant our warm weather crops earlier and protect them and give them the heat they like (particularly for things like melons).

      That’s a very interesting idea about the foil, I’ll have to think about that a bit.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Hans Kurr on April 26, 2009 at 11:41 pm

        Thank you, Susy!

        Since our closest home improvement store is a 120-mile-plus roundtrip, I’ve tried googling “electrical conduit”: lots of hits for hollow tubes meant to carry wires via hollow insides (http://www.calconduit.com/)…but I doubt your “conduits” are hollow, right? Maybe you could give us a link to the product you’re actually using. Am also still wondering whether the poly you drape over your hoops is 6-mil or a different grade?

        For the alu “roof-wrap” we’re thinking of using foil-bubble-bubble-foil to max reflection & heat retention.

        Hans

        to Hans Kurr's comment

      • Hans Kurr on April 27, 2009 at 9:31 am

        Sorry for this flurry of messages, Susy, but another thought just struck me: To give us enough elbow-room – literally – for working our beds from the sides, maybe the spacing of our hoops should be more like 30″.
        Hans

        to Hans Kurr's comment

  20. Hans Kurr on April 26, 2009 at 11:51 pm

    P.S.: Tried sending the minor question I have for “Inadvertent Farmer” directly to the web site that “I.F.” has…but couldn’t get past a URL problem (don’t have a web site of our own). “I.F.” may, of course, check over here…their last post was back on March 12th…so, in case you have direct access to “i.F.”, Susy, let me ask you please kindly to forward that question. TIA!
    Hans

    Reply to Hans Kurr's comment

  21. Starfire on May 26, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    What is the technique for bending the conduit? I noticed you had some lines marked on the pipe. Is it easy to make them all the same?

    Thanks

    Reply to Starfire's comment

    • Susy on May 26, 2009 at 2:06 pm

      It’s not that difficult to bend the pipes, the difficulty comes in bending them all the same. We messed up the first one, but the rest of them came out well, not perfect, but it is in the garden and we weren’t going for perfect. We marked them every 2 inches in the 6 feet in the middle of each pipe (we measured 2 ft in from each side and left that part straight). Then we bent the first 6-7 marks very lightly, and the middle ones a little more and the last 6-7 lightly again. The ends almost end up touching when you’re finished, but you just stretch them out over the beds. I’ve heard that a lot of people use irrigation pipes for their hoops, then all you need is a piece of pipe pounded into the ground beside the beds, but we wanted ours to be strong to hold up to snow.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  22. SImon on June 16, 2009 at 9:52 am

    Those hoops should really be a great benefit, using plastic in the winter and early spring to keep the soil warm and get an early start on the crops, and netting in the summer to keep the animals from eating the crops.

    Great Idea.

    Reply to SImon's comment

  23. [...] green beans last fall, so I’m trying it this year. I’m planning on covering them with plastic on those hoops we built. If this fall is colder than usual, as our summer has been, I’m only out $1.50 for the seeds. If [...]

    Reply to Quote of the Day: Robert Louis Stevenson | Chiot’s Run's comment

  24. Ellen on February 15, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    I was reading the blog, and could not find an answer to the question about what the hoops are made of and where to get them? They look metel on the picture.

    Thanks

    Reply to Ellen's comment

    • Susy on February 15, 2010 at 3:09 pm

      The hoops are made of electrical conduit. You can get them very cheaply at a home improvement store. They cost about $2 each.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Diana on February 19, 2010 at 1:56 pm

        How exactly do you bend them? Just by hand or do you have a special pipe bender?
        Very spiffy!
        Thanks!

        to Diana's comment

      • Susy on February 19, 2010 at 2:03 pm

        We used a regular pipe bender, here’s the post with a photo: http://chiotsrun.com/2009/03/06/whats-happening-in-the-garden/

        I saw in the Johnny’s catalog that they have a special tool now just for this purpose, might be a good investment if you want to make a lot of these. Many people use landscape irrigation pipe, which is bendable. They drive stakes into the ground and bend the pipe onto the stakes.

        to Susy's comment

  25. Darryl on April 13, 2010 at 10:10 pm

    I tried bending 3/4 EMT conduit, and while my hoops will work, they are not uniform, or pretty. Yours inspired me, but it is a lot harder than it looks to get the curvature consistent and no kinks.

    Fellow benders beware…

    Reply to Darryl's comment

    • Susy on April 13, 2010 at 10:29 pm

      It is difficult to get these to bend the same. We practiced on one and after that we got the hang of it (we did end up bending 14 of them, and of course our last ones were the best). We measured every 2 inches, so we would know when to bend to get a nice arc. Ours aren’t perfect either, but they’re good enough. A lot of people use irrigation pipe because it’s flexible and doesn’t require bending. We didn’t because they’re more expensive and not as strong (since we get a lot of snow we needed strength).

      Johnny’s just came out with a tool specifically built for this task: http://www.johnnyseeds.com/p-7708-quick-hoops-bender-4-diam.aspx

      Reply to Susy's comment

  26. [...] this isn’t the easiest thing to do to get these things nicely rounded (read through the comments on this post I wrote about it last year). Mr Chiots and I are adventurous and willing to try to do anything [...]

    Reply to Building Small Garden Hoop Houses out of Electrical Conduit | Chiot’s Run's comment

  27. Gbg on May 20, 2010 at 10:05 am

    Ooh mannn!! i basically typed a massive comment and as soon as i hit publish it showed up empty! Please tell me it functioned properly? I do not want to write it again if i do not necessarily have to! Either the blog glitced out there or i am an idiot, the last option doesnt shock me lol.

    Glenda B. G

    Reply to Gbg's comment

  28. Sue on June 2, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    Your hoop houses look great! How did you attach the plastic to the pipes? Did you use some sort of clamp? If so, where did you purchase them?

    Thanks,
    Sue

    Reply to Sue's comment

  29. Protecting the Winter Garden | Chiot's Run on November 1, 2010 at 4:47 am

    [...] you remember, last year Mr Chiots and I installed hoops over my raised bed specifically for protecting crops from our cold NE Ohio weather. Since the night time lows are [...]

    Reply to Protecting the Winter Garden | Chiot’s Run's comment

  30. Spring on December 23, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    Suggestion:
    Construction grade 6 mil will UV degrade in less than a year.
    Instead, use 4 year 6 mil greenhouse film, available by mail order from Growers Supply or regional greenhouse suppliers. That will result in less landfill waste.

    Suggestion:
    For a taller structure, use 3/4″ emt for the hoop. Fit hoop over the 1/2″ emt legs which are stuck in the ground 12″ – 18″ (depending on your wind exposure), cut to whatever length you require to achieve the height of the crop. Use baling twine crisscrossed over the top to keep the film covering in place; anchor it at the ground with bags of sand or rocks or soil.

    Question:
    Has anyone tried using the pipe bender to fabricate a ridge-vented tunnel and if so, what is the detailing of the connections at the ridge and ridge ends, and what did you use for the vent? Photos for all to see would be appreciated.

    Reply to Spring's comment

  31. Jackie on February 11, 2011 at 11:00 pm

    Your site is just what I’ve been looking for!! A home gardener with a hoophouse like me! I am in my third year of hoophouse gardening. My structures, which are made of PVC pipe and plastic from the fabric store (12 ml), have survived snow, ice and Nor’easters. It is constructed to fit over my 4×8′ raised beds. You can be sure that I anchor the structure down with rebar and screws. I sewed the HH on my home sewing machine, adding zippers for access and ventilation. It’s kind of like a big plastic slipcover! I have greens wintering over from the fall and already put in lettuce and mesclun. Last year, I had my tomatoes in the ground by April 2 since the soil temp. in the HH was 75 degrees! Not sure how many years I’ll get out of the PVC pipe and plastic but I feel as though my initial $70 investment has paid for itself many times over with the great harvests. I’ve started a blog, just as you have, to help the home gardener get a jump start with a hoophouse. You can check it out at ajunedecembergarden.blogspot.com/

    Reply to Jackie's comment

  32. Cassandra on May 3, 2011 at 12:11 am

    Thanks for posting this! I was trying to visualize the best way to build my hoops and you made it so easy! :)

    Reply to Cassandra's comment

  33. [...] An Example of a Hoop House [...]

    Reply to Time to Prepare for Winter! | Beardsley Community Farm's comment

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