Friday, January 29, 2010

How to build a simple hoop house.

We have a wide row garden layout and it worked out perfectly that our 3' wide rows and 2' wide aisles were the right distance for a hoop house to be built over them. Cattle panels are typically 16' long and as such when they are arched over they are about 7' high in the middle when they are bent over 9' apart.


The cattle panels (that you can purchase at any farm supply and a lot of hardware stores) are 50" wide and 16' long. They are arched over to create sidewalls and a roof support so if you want a 17' x 9' hoop house, you will need 4 panels and if you want an approx. 21' x 9' hoop house, you will need 5 panels.



Incidentally, these panels are useful for so many things. If you have the money, buy more than you need as they can be used as arch arbors for growing vining crops or temporary fences in a pinch. The base supports are simply 2" x 6" treated boards on end 8'-9' apart that are secured by 36" concrete form pins pounded into the ground. I pounded the concrete pins in place 9' apart then screwed the boards on the inside. You will need one other person to carry the cattle panel and place it carefully inside the wood 2x6 that will hold it in place.
Click on any photos to enlarge them.



After the panels are in place, I used zip-ties to hold them together along the ridge line where they abutted each other. We then draped the shade cloth over the top. I purchased a 24' x 20' piece of 50% shade cloth that kept our hoop house about 10 degrees cooler than the rest of the garden in summer and enabled us to grow cool season vegetables through June and July. 20' wide allows for 2' of overlap on both ends to hold it down at the base.

Heavy-duty shade cloth.

Some people prefer 50% white plastic that has the shade benefits in the summer as well as the ability to hold heat in during cold weather, so that you can grow your greens all winter long. I have not taken this step yet, but may in the future. I have not had luck with plastic and I hate throwing away huge sheets of it every other year after it breaks down. I do think that the heavy duty shade cloth helps with extending fall greens into November because it holds in some heat at night and minimizes wind damage.


The finished product!

Spring greens in our new hoop house. You can clamp the ends of the metal panels to the boards, and I purchased the clamps when I built this, but never got around to installing them. The hoop house has lasted through a winter of winds without the panels being attached at the base. More importantly is that the tops be fastened to each other, where they abut along the ridge line, so that they hold together as a unit. I use rocks to hold down the shade cloth on the outside at the bottom.

12 comments:

  1. very cool design. I was thinking of making a small rectangular green house with plastic walls (reinforced with bars of course) instead of glass. ANy thoughts on that? I live in CT, so we have pretty nasty winters.

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  2. How did the cattle fence "hoops" hold up in the winter? I'm not familiar with how much snowfall you get in your area-I'd love this as a quick and easy method but am afraid that the hoops wouldn't stand up to the snow, rain etc in upstate NY.

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  3. The hoops have good strength from the top (snow load), but they may need some internal support for wind coming at them from the side. I would zip tie each one to the one next to it and then use some 2x4's on the inside to attach from the base boards to the up wind side of the hoops. Every other panel should be fine. I hope this helps.

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  4. You mention placing the cattle panels inside the 2x6 frame and using zip ties to attach them to each other...but how do you attach them to the 2x6? As in, what fastener did you use? And did you use any rebar/fence post supports? I couldn't see any in the pics, but just wondering?

    Thanks!!!

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  5. cool! thanks for sharing I used cattle panel in my garden too and love it
    If i had more room I would make a long run like yours
    mine worked great for tomatoes this summer
    my pics are at my website
    www.raisedurbangardens.com
    thanks again for the inspiration
    i love your blog
    Mel

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  6. Attractive design! I'll try to make hoop house in my garden, this was pretty cool! Thanks for sharing this post.

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  7. I learned early on that growing tomatoes on the prairie of Nebraska was not very successful unless the tomatoes were protected. Horse stall mats The wind here can be brutal and then there

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