[Market-farming] Hoop house blues
kevin.wilson100 at shaw.ca
Wed Nov 9 14:03:27 EST 2005
> HOMEGROWN HOOPHOUSE BLUES: What can (and did) go wrong
LOL! I built a plastic pipe/rebar hoophouse last year and found that indeed,
it's not as easy as you mght think Mind you, our goofs and problems were
different from yours.
Some things we did right:
* used 1" schedule 40 PVC pipe for teh hoops and ridge. This was on rebar
stakes at each end, but we didn't run rebar all the way through and found it
stood up to our 70-80km/h winds OK. I taped it together where each hoop
crossed the ridge with several yards of electrical tape wound round and
across, stretched tight. This held up very well, though the whole house
shimmied and swayed rather startlingly in high winds.
* extended each pipe by 1ft to 21ft, to give us nearly 7' headroom over the
12' width. My partner is 6'3" and previous experience says that
indeterminate tomatoes and climbing peas wll go well over 6ft.
* used a "hip board" (actually about 5' off teh ground) to hold teh top part
of teh plastic (we used heavy builders plastic too) very firmly to the
hoops. No problems with it lifting off. The lower parts were rolled onto
boards which were weighted down at the ground. These could be rolled up
later for ventilation. We kept adding more concrete blocks every time teh
wind lifted a side, until we had a block at the bottom of each hoop and
extras at the ends.
* made vents at each end. My first job every sunny morning was to run out in
my bathrobe and rubber boots to open the vents :-)
Difficulties we had:
* making teh ends work! I wanted a wide door so I could have 2 narrow paths
between 3 beds in our 12' width, instead of one eg screen door in the middle
of the end. Had intended to use sticky-back velcro to make a wide roll-up
poly door, but turns out the sticky-back doesn't stick properly to the poly!
We ended up with a cobbled-together setup involving multiple cedar 1x2's,
rocks, pieces of string, etc - but it did work.
* sides lifting in wind (see above)
* the hoops eventually started to dig their way into teh ground. Next time
there will be "washers" over the rebar before I put the hoops on, to stop
> went inside the hoop house today and noticed that about half the hoops
> been BENT away from the prevailing 60 kph wind. The hoop and door frame at
> the north end of the house is leaning at about a 70 degree angle toward
> inside of the house (the door frame IS supported by 18 inch wooden stakes
> pounded into the ground and attached to the vertical pieces on both
18" stakes total length, not the length above the ground? Seems a little
short to me. Our rebar stakes were about 3ft and the ends stayed upright
very well. However, our prevailing winds were side-on to the house, not
end-on. I also kept the vents open to let pressure equalize inside and
outside teh house.
> It was our intention to grow greens for our 11 subscribers this winter. We
> followed EC's planting schedule in his "Winter Harvest Manual". However,
> from August to the middle of October, we had NO RAIN here and hauling
> from a nearby stream just wasn't enough. So everything is REALLY small and
> not growing much (it's November 8). I really wonder if we will be able to
> supply our subscribers. ***LESSON #8***: Start earlier than they say.
a) don't contract to supply things until you've tried out your methods :-)
b) drip irrigation is your friend. Really, it is incredibly worth the money
in time saved and improved growth, even here on the Wet Coast.
Powell River, BC
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