Help with cheap hoophouse design

ccandyApril 9, 2013

I'm new to market farming but realize a hoophouse would help me extend my season tremendously. I have seen pvc type, do it your self hoop houses here and there and was wondering if anyone out there in "Market Gardener" land has constructed one. I'm guessing a 20' piece of pvc will give me 12' or so in width. I'm thinking about using rebar to secure the ends but am at a loss how to attach the plastic to the pvc. I will need to open up the sides in the summer. Any suggestions for me? Also, how should I treat the end walls? Also, where is a fairly reasonable source to purchase greenhouse poly. I want it to last at least 4 yrs. Appreciate your help with my project!!! Candy

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You might check the green house section.

I like you an new to market farming. This will be our third year at market and will have much more than the previous year. I am also in the middle of constructing a small greenhouse. I am using10' lengths of 3/4" PVC. I cut them into 6' and 4' pieces and am using elbows to make an A frame. 3' rebar pounded in about 18" or so. I'm going to use the cheapest 1'x4' lumber I can find for use as hip boards at around 3' up the sides. I will attach the plastic there and wieght it down at the bottom with something, maybe sandbags. This will allow me to raise it up for ventilation. For the ends I will build a frame to sit with in the PVC frame and fasten with conduit fasteners and then wrap in plastic. The cheapest source I have found for poly is

Hope this helps. I am but a novice so if someone else has some input on my design I would love to hear it.



    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 10:29AM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

We have 6 high tunnels and 3 of them are made of PVC. Here is a link to some of our presentations and links to others presentations and directions on how to build your own.


Here is a link that might be useful: PVC hoop house

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 4:26PM
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Here is my latest effort if this helps:

I went with chain link top rail over pvc. I bought a bender from I didn't use their design, though. My bender is supposed to make a 20-ft wide hoop out of three top rail sections. I used two chain link posts as straight side walls and two top rail sections. The angle is a metal conduit 90 degree angle that is cut in half to make a 45. I bought purlin clamps from lost creek. My plastic comes from the wholesale supplier I buy from, - I have not yet put it on. I'm just about to put three rows of tomatoes in it.

My end walls are 4x4 posts set in concrete and the end hoops are composite decking board. The end wall construction is overkill, but I am in an open field and get high winds. I like this design better than lost creek's, because it is about two feet lower to the ground. To give due credit, the design is inspired by jrslick's posts of his high tunnels on this forum.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 4:34PM
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How tall is it? Are all the 4x4s set in concrete? Are the vertical pipes just clamped to the side walls or driven/set into the ground? How far apart are the hoops?

I'd love to do just this with the hoops that I got from Uncle Harry. Don't know if there's room in the budget to do it this year though. I have to show a profit this year. Maybe I can do it early next year so that I can get some early tomatoes in and earn something from it the same year I pay to build it.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 5:37PM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

I would have gone with a moveable design rather than set in concrete but I can't build much of anything.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 5:47PM
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It's 8' tall. The sidewalls are 4'. The hoops are 4' apart. The end wall 4x4s are in concrete. Half of the sidewall 4x4s are in concrete. The chain link post is a 6' post driven 2' into the ground. Next time I will skip the 4x4 posts on the sidewalls and use all metal posts.

I have seen the moveable design. It doesn't make a lot of sense to me. (Of course that's just my opinion.) It seems like removing the plastic and replacing it with shade cloth would be simpler. I am going to try to mix up some mud as shade paint this summer and see how that works. I tried diluted latex paint last year, but couldn't get it off.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 7:28PM
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Colerobbie, there is a 'paint' that is designed for greenhouses. The latex paint is for plastic on it's last year.

I don't remove the plastic, just the shade cloth that is installed over the plastic and held down with ropes attached to either concrete blocks or other weighting items.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 7:39PM
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Yeah, but it was way too expensive. I think it's meant for the rigid poly panels, too. Does the shade cloth rubbing against your poly not make it turn cloudy? That's what I'm worried about. Everywhere that my poly has rubbed against something in the wind is now milky-looking.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 10:56PM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)


Looking pretty darn awesome! Thanks for the credit. It is nice to see someone else using my design. When you get that first really big wind storm, you will be thankful for the 4 by 4 posts. They will really help keep everything in place and not move. In my opinion, with out the 4 by 4, metal posts driven in 2 feet isn't enough. On my big 30 by 48, I tore down and rebuilt, I couldn't afford new ground posts ( they would have cost 2 times the amount I paid for the building) I drove galvanized, thick wall pipe in the ground up to 5.5 to 6 feet deep. The original plans call for a 4-5 foot hole with concrete on every post. I concreted the middles and the 4 corners. I was able to slide my stub ground posts over the pipe and bolt them together to secure it all. Over kill probably, not having to worry about it allows me to sleep at night!

I am looking at phasing out these homemade PVC tunnels, in favor of an all metal construction. I might do one a year for the next 3. I haven't decided.


    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 12:55AM
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If it's not moveable than it's a greenhouse-part of the definition of a hoophouse is that it can be moved somewhat "easily"

We use a design my husband engineered that uses 3/4" emt metal conduit. We use this because it is stringer, much cheaper in the long run (parts last 15+ years) and we don't have to deal with more vinyl stuff.

the link is to my blog and an informative series of posts on how we make a hoophouse for under $800. The plastic is the most expensive part and do get 6 mil greenhouse poly as it is UV stable and will last 3 to 5 years. 6 mil plastic that is not UV stable will last maybe a season and than shed tiny pieces of plastic all over your ground. It's only cheaper in the short run.

Here is a link that might be useful: Hoop House Redux

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 5:20AM
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I can only get the end posts into the ground if I'm lucky. Maybe rebar or 2" pipe pounded in along the sides. It's all ledge here, that's why I'm growing in raised beds. My dad said yesterday that's why they never farmed on the back acreage where I built my house. The good land is near the farmhouse where my cousin lives - her dad bought the neighbor's house 50 years ago and then bought some of the orchard and land behind the barn from his uncle, now it's a big lawn.

I do have a couple of acres on top of the hill behind the barn, my great-uncle says that was good land but as long as I can remember it's been in hay. DH keeps brush-hogging it to keep it clear, my dad says it's all "puckerbush" (thorny weed of some sort) and not good as hay, he'd love to see it planted in corn but I don't know if it's fertile enough, or even if sweet corn is a good choice. It's just a hard spot to do anything with since it's closer to my cousin's house than mine, and unless we clear out along an old logging trail enough for me to get the riding lawnmower or the pickup truck through, I'd have to drive a mile down the road and park in their driveway to work down there.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 8:14AM
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Colerobbie, I have noticed enough difference to worry about. Lots of houses, around here, are using the white plastic. Our shade cloth was free, so I don't know what shade strength it was, it's keeping the light good without being intense.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 10:03AM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

Eliot Coleman's moveable high tunnels are what I dream about. I am talking about the kind with castors (is that right?) that are pulled by a tractor.

Here is a link that might be useful: fourth pic from bottom

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 2:24PM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

Movable buildings are really very awesome. If I had flatter ground that would allow them to be built, I would put up another 2 or 4. Currently I have 2 movable buildings (16 by 32 each) with 3 growing spaces. I move them 4 plus times a year.

On a bigger building, I can see the use of the wheels, but for my sized buildings they just ride on solid steel rod on top of 2 by 6's.

I can move them with a tractor or by hand myself.


Here is a link that might be useful: Moving our movable high tunnel

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 4:55PM
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