hoop houses/high tunnels

brownscutflowerfarmJanuary 23, 2006

I've read the post here for years and usually find the answers to all my questions.

We are planning on adding hoop houses to the farm this year and I was wondering if any of you are using them? How it's working out and what you would do differently.

I have ordered from Growing for Market, The HoopHouse Handbook.

Thanks for any info any of you are willing to share.


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flowers4u(z6 OR)

Becky -
While I don't have hoophouses -- yet -- they're part of a long-term goal -- there is an excellent forum, sponsored by KSU (Kansas)& USDA. The link is below. They have pictures, been there/done that stories, etc. A great resource...I'm reading and learning and setting useful ideas aside!
Good luck

Here is a link that might be useful: High Tunnel List

    Bookmark   January 24, 2006 at 8:42PM
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Thanks Wendy,

When my brother and I decided to give hoophouses a try the website you gave was one of the firt places we went. It is an excellent resource.

We're hoping with our "Alabama Weather" we will be able to grow some crops year round. We are starting our 4th growing season. We try to add something to the farm each year, this is the year for hoophouses.

Last year we added chicken tractors, those are working great!


    Bookmark   January 24, 2006 at 10:38PM
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First of all welcome to the Cutting Garden forum. It is always good to have input from new people. Otherwise, we get pretty stale around here.

Hightunnels are like potato chips. You can't have just one. We grow in hightunnels for season extension. The difference between a hightunnel and a hoophouse is that a hoophouse usually has 1' anchors driven into the ground, and the hoops span across ground to ground. Hightunnels generally have 4-5' side wall anchors. Basically this gives the grower more height at the sides to grow taller plants. Because our cutflowers grow taller in the hightunnel, we need this extra room. Hightunnels cost more because they require more lumber -- extra 2x6s for hipboards, etc. If your plants aren't going to grow very tall, then the extra expense of a hightunnel isn't necessary.

Some growers say that their hoophouse or hightunnel pays for itself the first season. If you're not heating it, that's probably true. Our hightunnels are working out fine for us. We learn every year what we coulda, shoulda, woulda done differently. That's the name of the game with this specialty cutflower growing thing.

The Hoophouse Handbook is good to have on hand. The newer one is called Extending the Season, (Six Strategies for Improvig Cash Flow Year-Round on Your Market Farm) 2005. There's also an article about winter markets.

Two of our newer hightunnels with snow up to the hipboards.
These are situated E to W. The others are situated N to S like the one in the background.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2006 at 10:28AM
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Is it just my computer, or are your last 3 images posted not coming through?

    Bookmark   January 26, 2006 at 6:58AM
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In an effort to organize digital pictures from our 2005 season, some jpg files were moved and renamed. This in turn breaks the link to the images that have recently been posted to the Cutting Garden.

Regarding growing in hightunnels or hoophouses, I would like to hear what Becky plans to grow in her hoophouses.........


    Bookmark   January 26, 2006 at 11:19AM
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Hey Flowerfarmer,

I was wondering what flowers you use in them to extend your season. I was able to get three 120' X 15' X 8' for a super deal last fall and I'm still not quite sure what I'm going to do with them. I was thinking on a late season Sunflower harvest for October where I would grow them without any poly at first and then put the poly on when the danger of frost gets near.

Do you use them for earlier season as well as late season to extend your season?


    Bookmark   January 26, 2006 at 4:39PM
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We are planning on doing the high tunnels, because we want to be able to use the tractor in it, plus the added height will make it easier to harvest.

As far as what we are going to grow...that I'm still working on. I know in the fall and that's a long way off, we will be planting Muscari in the hoop house. We're thinking of growing the beloved Zinnia to start with. As soon as I determine what crop will work best for us I'll keep you all posted.

Thanks so much for the warm welcome. Trish, when I saw your pictures and all that snow I was a bit surprised. I forget being in the south, that others have snow to contend with.

My daffodils and tulips are up. I know I will have those ready to sale by Valentine's Day.

Also, this year we are adding 1/2 acre of cotton. Which will be used for ornamental purposes, wreaths, bouquet filler, etc for fall harvest. That has been a challenge to get the permits and such. You can't raise cotton without Boll Wievel traps and a permit. Well you can, if you don't get caught. I don't care to spend time in Federal Prison because we don't have proper permits.


    Bookmark   January 26, 2006 at 6:37PM
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Wow. Becky, I didn't know you needed a permit to raise cotton. Not that we have any plans to do so; but, that is interesting. Glad you were able to view our snow photo before it disappeared. We found that zinnias aren't good candidates for hightunnel crops. These things will have a total meltdown in the field sometimes. In the hightunnel, it is just plain scary trying to grow them.

Steve, Congratulations on your wonderful purchase which I am assuming you have not yet put up. You have hoophouses with 8' centers. I am guessing you will be able to plant a couple beds. Sunbright Supreme is the best sunflower for growing under cover.

We use our hightunnels (12' centers - 3 beds to a tunnel) for both early and late season crops; but, mainly early because we have found that is is more important to be out there early with flowers. I posted this information earlier in the month in another thread; but, I will post it again here. These are some of the crops we grow for early production: dahlias, tulips, anemone, stock, snapdragons, bells of Ireland, bupleurum, celosia, delphinium, sweet peas, lisianthus, sweet william, foxglove, larkspur, saponaria, and sunflowers. In crates: callas, freesias, lilies, crocosmia, iris, and daffodils. For late season crops: sunflowers, salvia leucantha, celosia, ornamental peppers, eucalpytus, pumpkins-on-a-stick, and lilies. We cut the dahlias and lisianthus back, fertilize them; and, they will send up new blooms later in the season.


    Bookmark   January 26, 2006 at 7:35PM
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