By N. Haveman
The idea to build a hoop house in the backyard has been floating around in my head for quite some time now. I’ve romanticized this idea and it has been nurtured by some friends of mine that probably had no idea what type of fire they were fanning. Basically, hoop houses are great for our growing region since our growing season is so short due to late and early frosts and chilly nights. Hoop houses, put simply, extend the growing season on either end to allow your veggies and such more time to grow.
Described below is a simplified step-by-step guide to building your own hoop house. It is by no means a replacement for expert advice, but if you’re interested in building one, it’s completely possible. They are relatively inexpensive – the materials for this 10’ x 14’ structure (minus the starter plants) cost less than $300 – and we spent just a couple of days putting it together. The best way to get one of your own (what I did, anyway) is to call Josh and Melissa and have them help you along the way – or do it all. Give them a call today:
Josh @ 203-219-1222 or Melissa @ 203-731-4446.
Step 1: Compost
Prepping the soil ahead of time is vitally important. As you probably know, we don’t have the best soil out here in the Gallup area. Josh and I went over to Holiday Nursery and bought a load of compost to lay on my plot.
Step 2: Till
After spreading the compost on the plot, Josh took a rototiller to the situation and mixed the compost with the soil underneath . . . luckily, I had mostly sand under the compost already.
Step 3: Hoops
I didn’t get a photo of pounding the rebar into the ground (that would have been step 3a). Basically, in the step above (3b) Josh and Melissa are fitting the 1.25” PVC over the rebar on either side to create the hoops.
Step 4: Doors, Base & Plastic
Before placing the plastic over the hoops, we built the door frame and base. The door frame can be as complex or as simple as you like (for the door we used 1x4s and chicken wire) . . . but you need two of them, one on each side, for ventilation. The base, made with 2x6s, is a fail safe to hold the hoops in place and for the next step.
The plastic covering is as simple as it seems. The important thing to remember is to use 6 mil. plastic sheeting. Once you’ve cut and pulled the plastic into place, simply sandwich it between the existing base and another 2×6 affixed to it, holding it all together.
Step 5: Plant
Now, I didn’t actually help at all in this stage – not that I helped much in any other stage – but I went with Melissa over to Holiday Nursery and we picked out appropriate plants for the hoop house. We chose tomatoes, eggplant, squash, chiles, and assorted herbs.
Josh Kanter and Melissa Levenstein were the heroes of this project. They have been working with FoodCorps in Gallup this year at schools and around the community to help educate our youth on what it means to eat well and where healthy food comes from. They are available to help you build your own hoop house or answer any questions you may have about the process. See above for contact info.
Special Thanks to Holiday Nursery and Gallup Lumber & Supply for added know-how on this project! If you decide to make your own hoop house, definitely stay local with the purchasing of equipment and supplies!