Hoop House Gardening

Greenhouse growing.

Hoop house gardening gives gardeners the ability to prolong their growing season by using a portable greenhouse in their garden. Mainly constructed of PVC pipe and plastic sheeting, hoop houses are simple structures that have no windows for ventilation, and no electrical fans to move air. They can be made from kits, or by using materials purchased from home supply warehouses. These buildings get their name from the hoop-shape of the PVC pipe during construction, which creates a tunnel-shape for the greenhouse.

Ideas for Hoop House Gardening

For those gardeners living in colder zones, a major benefit of hoop house gardening is the extended harvest times during parts of the winter that would otherwise cut the season short. Other benefits of hoop house gardening include early starting for seedlings and protecting tender vegetables from direct rain or snow.

Starting Seedlings

Hoop houses create good environments for seed starting. By starting seeds in a constant environment, vegetables and plants tend to grow more quickly, with more seeds making it to sprout. Leaf lettuce seeds can be started in barrels or containers in the hoop house, and kept there during their growth. Other vegetables can be started in small cells or trays, and transplanted outside in the ground once they have successfully sprouted.

Continuing Growth

Plants that are sensitive or tend to die back during the winters can be held in hoop houses for continued growth. Vegetable plants still producing can be harvested long after a typical season is over if grown in a hoop house.

Protecting Tender Plants

Plants can be overwintered in hoop houses. Garden plants susceptible to frost can be stored in a hoop house to them protect from extreme cold. Move the pots in the hoop house when the weather dictates, or permanently house more tender plants that thrive in warmer environments.

Tropical Plant Gardening

Tropical plants, such as succulents and orchids, enjoy the warm and humid environments that a hoop house can provide. Tropical plants can be housed permanently in hoop house structures, or placed indoors during the colder seasons.

Building Hoop Houses

Kits for hoop houses come in complete packages containing everything needed for construction. Some kits conveniently come with prefabricated steel pipe tubing already shaped in an arc. Besides kits, hoop houses can be built using equipment and materials already at the house, or those items that are easily purchased at a home supply warehouse. Materials for a basic hoop house include:

  • PVC pipe for the hoops
  • Wood for the frame
  • Screws, nylon ties and staples needed for assembly
  • Plastic sheeting for walls
  • Plywood as needed
  • Clamps for plastic sheeting, if needed
  • Sizing and Space Requirements

The size of the hoop house needed depends on the lot size and the actual usage of the greenhouse. For those gardeners with smaller lots, then the size of the hoop house will depend directly on what available flat areas are open for the placement of the structure. Gardeners who plan on starting seeds should maximize the space available within the frame, and ensure enough space will be created for growing tables. If the gardener needs long tables, it may be better to build the tables first so that the hoop house fits around them.

Building Considerations

In snow-heavy zones, emphasis should be placed on creating a sturdy frame to withstand snowfall, or creating an easy way to remove the plastic film after the season ends. At times, the temperature may become too hot for more fragile vegetables. While there are no windows or fans in the hoop house, placing doors at either end during construction can help with ventilation as needed. Since the hoop house will be under constant strain from the sun, purchasing UV-resistant plastic film for the greenhouse will add years to the life of the plastic sheeting.

Hoop House Kits

Complete kits come with all the pieces needed for quick construction.

Other Uses for Hoop Houses

Hoop houses have many uses besides protecting plants from the cold. Hoop houses can be used for growing tropical garden plants, or simply reserved for winter gardening for cool-weather vegetables.

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Hoop House Gardening