One of the first goals we need to accomplish on this year’s “To-Do” list is building our hoop house/greenhouse for the farm. It will help to extend both the spring and fall growing seasons, allowing us to grow fresh vegetables nearly year-round. In addition, we will use it to finish growing and hardening off our vegetable and flower plantings that we start from seed each year in the early spring.
We spent the past few weeks researching the web in search of the perfect design. The problem is, most of the DIY plans and a large majority of the commercial kits we found simply look flimsy and unattractive. Those that do look a little more pleasing to the eye unfortunately also seem to cost a small fortune!
So with the goal of building an attractive and yet inexpensive hoop house – we set about designing one that will use a mix of recycled and reclaimed materials, along with some unique new ones. We want it to be more of a permanent structure – much like a greenhouse would be minus the high cost. We created the plan utilizing a mix of the best ideas we could find while researching.
The hoop house measures 11′ x 20′ – with side walls that are 3′ high. To give it a little more of a permanent feel – we will use reclaimed windows we have on hand for the walls on each side. We will start by sinking (5) 4x4x6′ posts 30″ into the ground on each side and run a simple bottom and top board along each side to frame it in. The windows will then get attached between the posts for the base. We will finish off the two ends by framing out with some common lumber and attach two recycled glass doors we salvaged. For the arched roof, instead of metal poles or pvc - we will use cattle panels to create the roof line.
The panels ($19.99 each) are a great looking and low cost way to provide strength - and can be easily covered with plastic for fall, winter and spring use – or an attractive shade cloth for the summertime. Each panel is 16′ long x 48″ wide – so it only takes 5 to make our entire 20′ length. The panels bow into shape for a perfect arched form. We will then secure them to top of the 36″ side walls with nails, and secure the panels together with ties to a single pipe running from end to end at the top of the curved roof.
The hoop house will be about 9′ high at the apex of the center line. This design will allow us plenty of room to work inside and have a total of 3 raised row beds. The two outer beds will be 20″ wide and run along each windowed side – the middle row will be 3′ wide and can be accessed by one of the two walking rows down the middle. We will also place 24″ wire racking at the top of the 3′ knee walls to hold our flats as we grow them out for the garden each spring.
The growing rows below on the sides may not sound wide – but they will be used for growing lettuce, kale, cabbage, onions, radishes and other quick turnaround crops that do not require much room. We figure we can grow enough produce now to easily fill our needs – be able to finish off up to 40 full-sized seedling flats on the wire racks each spring – and grow out some of our hanging baskets too. In between – we can also let the chickens in as an extra holding space – especially if we are raising new ones. A true multi-purpose building!
Between the ten posts ($60) the five fence panels ($100), assorted lumber for framing and the plastic sheeting ($80) – we should be able to complete the project for under $250, which is a far cry from what the commercial units cost.
We will be sure to update everyone on the progress – and once complete here in a few weeks – we will feature it on a future Tuesday DIY/Garden Post.
Happy Gardening – Mary and Jim