Gardens

Cold Weather Gardening with Hoop and Greenhouses

If you want to start your planting early, before the last frost, you may want to consider creating an inexpensive hoop house. Hoop houses protect your seedlings from frost and cold winds, thereby extending your growing seasons sometimes by months. Hoop houses vary in size from very small in backyards to enormous, such as the ones you see at commercial nurseries.

The hoop house I have is for one of my 4 x 8 raised beds (see http://www.aihd.ku.edu/gardens/raised_bed_garden.html )

Materials for a 4 x 8 hoop house:

Four 10 foot lengths of ½ inch diameter PVC pipes
Eight 2 feet-long ½ inch diameter rebar. Or, 4 four-foot lengths then use a hack saw to cut them in half.
12 large binder clips. I got my box of 12 at Office Depot for less than $4
1 10x20 roll of plastic drop cloth. Many experienced hoopers will tell you to buy more substantial plastic, but I want to see what kind of weather this inexpensive plastic can handle.

Tosh sawing rebar

With a heavy metal blade in your hacksaw, you can cut through the ½ inch rebar in a minute or less.

hoop house

Drive one of the 8 pieces of the rebar into the ground at each corner with a hammer or mallet, then again at 32 inches and 64 inches on each side until five inches of the bar is left above ground. Simply fit one end of the PVC pipe over one rebar then bend the pipe so it fits over the rebar on the opposite side.

Ari and hoop house

Attach one end of the plastic drop cloth at one end with two clips, then bring the cloth over the ribs, attaching with clips at the base of each rib. I put some extra metal t-posts at the ends of the raised beds to keep the plastic from flying up, and an 8-foot wooden post along the side.

Inside this hoop house are rows of lettuce, broccoli, spinach, cauliflower and radishes.

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My small hoop house is very simple. Hoop houses are often much larger and complicated such as the expensive mail-order one we put together (with $400 worth of additonal materials). When it was 20 degrees outside, it remained much warmer inside:

greenhouse in winter winter greenhouse temperature

Inside the greenhouse:

You can access some photos from inside the house from my blog: http://www.aihd.ku.edu/blogs/october20.html

More information about hoop houses:

Mother Earth News: http://www.motherearthnews.com/Organic-Gardening/2003-02-01/Hoop-Houses.aspx

How to Build a Hoop House

http://westsidegardener.com/howto/hoophouse.html
http://www.bigpumpkins.com/ViewArticle.asp?id=53
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5dyGHurXdA
http://www.freshgardenenergy.com/SeasonExtend/MiniHoopFrame.html
Mini Hoop House: http://www.noble.org/Ag/Horticulture/MiniHoopHouse/index.html