Where do you buy wire for low tunnel hoops?

2ajsmamaApril 25, 2013

I wanted to get something ASAP to make some 7ft hoops to cover my strawberry bed (figured since it's just for a couple of months to keep critters out I'd just use sheer curtains from Goodwill sewn together to cover). Either UV-rated ENT (comes 10ft length for $1.60 but HD should cut) or just wire - whichever was cheaper. Wire would be easier to get into our rocky ground.

AWG 8 bare copper wire is $227 (plus 6.35% tax) for 500ft at HD, I don't need copper, aluminum should be fine at that gauge.

Even though I'd be "wasting" 3 ft by cutting the PVC to 7ft length (unless I had a single row of something else to cover with the 3ft piece), I'd still rather pay 23 cents per ft than 48 cents but if anybody knows of cheaper wire I'd rather have wire than PVC.

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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

In my opinion, 7 foot wire hoops are too big for just wire. At that width, it will be flimsy. It might work, but I am guessing that PVC or EMT would work much better especially for an outside setting.

Just go to Lowes, Farm Store, Fencing supplier and ask for 9 gauge wire. That is what you need. No copper (WAY HIGH!) No aluminum, just plain old 9 gauge steel wire will work.



We use old wire that was probably telegraph or early telephone wire that the railroad tore out when they replaced the railroad tracks near my parents house many, many years ago. I grandpa picked it up for free. We have 1,000's of feet of the stuff all rolled up into nice 3 foot rolls.


    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 10:13AM
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Nothing like free!

Farmtek has 76" steel wire but you have to buy 100 (OK, I might use it for other things) but shipping is more than 1/2 the cost of the wire itself (and if I'm going to bend it I might as well cut it to the length I need too, rather than buying lengths).

I'll check out the other links, HD doesn't show any wire except copper in a search. Don't know if TSC might have some.

Do you really think 7ft lengths (for 4ft bed) would be too flimsy to support some sheer nylon/poly curtains and maybe some clothespins? Just trying to keep the birds and the deer out, I could put plastic netting on instead but that's more expensive than the Goodwill curtains.

I will have to get some spun poly row cover at some point but trying to make it through this year with minimal expenses, I'm already committed to $200 market fee, $25 farm map listing and $10-25 worth of product to give as a "door prize" on Open Farm Day. Plus I really think I need more T posts to fence more area in to plant this year (at least I still have CRW left over to use as fencing or tomato cages).

Not going to do the high tunnel this year - if I can make a profit, I'll get the area leveled and corner posts in this fall, then buy lumber and film early next year so expenses and profit from HT crops will be in same year.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 10:28AM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

I am sorry, I thought you were covering 7 foot wide beds or 2, 3 foot beds with a 1 foot walk way! Oops, sorry.

I think 4 foot beds will be doable. You may want to just keep them a little closer together than farther apart.


    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 10:48AM
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In fact, the strawberry bed may end up being less than 4 ft wide since it's run along the top of the stone wall DH built between our house garden and the (lower) lawn. He just dug out for corner posts for the garden fence last night while I was running kids to Scouts, I don't know if he squared up but he extended length of garden again and didn't leave room for walkway between fence and berries. We'll square up and set posts (in concrete?) this weekend, may just put up deer netting as "fence" again this year, I'd eventually like a kind of see-through thin picket fence along the lawn side (like someone in neighboring town on way to Home D. has) with netting as backing (to keep out rabbits, etc.) but the berries will definitely have to move then. Some grew past edges I had defined last year, I was going to pull them (and fill in some holes within the bed) anyway but if we put a fence up with 4x4 posts I will need to narrow the berry bed to 2ft so I can reach far side from lawn.

We'll see if I can do a 3ft bed if we just have netting up this year, then I won't have to pull half the plants before they even fruit this year.

Bed is only 4 (5 in some spots) ft x 33ft. Garden next to it gets longer every year - it's up to about 16ft wide x 52.5 - 53.75ft (best as I can measure by myself, and yes 1 side seems longer than the other, he obviously didn't measure where he put his stakes, or didn't dig the holes with the marks exactly centered) long now. Doesn't matter, if we can just get that one long side straight and with an even number of panels (I have to see how wide they come), and the western short side square to that so we can put in a gate, we can just run netting alone along the other 2 sides. Though it would have been nice to fence the north (long) side for a windbreak, we do have tree stumps sprouting close to the NE corner, and fencing another 52ft or so would be pretty $$$. We can plant a windbreak along the NW side instead.

Hey, how's the baby doing? I just heard from my sister, her DD was 17lbs 13 oz (80%) at 6 months!

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 11:44AM
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Found it at TSC, 171ft for $15. I probably will buy more 7ft tall/wide deer netting to use around the expanded garden and use 33ft of the 2 yr old stuff (now in 3rd season) that is a little ripped in place over the strawberries. I didn't quite have 33ft of curtains/sheer material and it's not wide enough to cover a hoop, just have it laid over some stakes and tied on with baling twine right now so I could get the pine branches off.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 12:58PM
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It has been recommended to me to use old chain link fence
separated into the individual strands. So far I haven't done it but I am keeping my eye out for some taller stuff for free or cheap. The green vinyl coated kind would be neat.

I have lots of bent 10' emt and rebar pieces but sometimes that's overkill and more work to stand them up.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 3:08PM
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It's worth the $15 and I'll have lots left. The deer fencing went up in the past 2 years though - HD only had 1 roll left of the heavier stuff (which isn't that heavy) and it was 3x the cost of the flimsy stuff. But I know the flimsy one won't last 1 season so I bought the heavier. The rolls I got 2 years ago are just torn a little from the wind where we had them tied to the 10ft conduit. I'm going to use that around the edamame this year (about 10x40 area with 3 pairs of 4x4 cedar posts 6 ft apart every 20 ft and 5 strands of 14 AWG wire strung overhead on 2x4s, so I can hang the netting from that).

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 4:02PM
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#9 wire is used for LOTS of things around a farm. I don't any old farm without a roll or many around.

I think your TSC will probably be the best place for most of your farm items instead of HD.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 4:16PM
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Couldn't find the 14 gauge wire there 2 years ago though - had to go to HW store. We've got the smallest HD in the state, and probably the smallest TSC too. HD is about 15 miles from my house (so I went to the grocery store for more OJ, milk and fruit today) and TSC is 8.5 miles.

Now if there was just a TSC closer to DS's school since I am picking him up every day after track practice - but the closest one there is into MA and is still 8.7 miles from school. It might be a little bit bigger one, but considering the school is 11 miles from our house, I prefer not to drive the truck 36-40 miles to pick him up and go to TSC when we could just drive 17 miles to local TSC. Now, if I can fit something in my car, that's different. My car gets about 10 mpg better than the truck, and that's with these short trips to run kids around.

I thought the Farmtek game bird netting was expensive last year, but have to look again - it might be more cost effective than this plastic deer barrier (Easy Gardener brand) at HD. TSC didn't have any kind of netting last I looked - and their 3-4 high poultry/rabbit fence was expensive too.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 4:37PM
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A roll of wire should fit in a car, even a compact. Might be 3' across or less.

I don't know about the bird netting/deer fence since I don't have many problems with those critters (good dogs).

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 7:19PM
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Oh yeah, a roll of wire will fit in the car but I just figured why make an extra trip if we're taking the truck to get fence posts. Those won't fit in my car - or maybe they would, but I don't want them sticking up between my front seats ;-)

Randy, did you get my email about the Farmtek bird netting? My browser keeps crashing but I haven't seen an email from you and it empties my cart each time so I figured I'd ask here on the fourm if the stuff was durable before I order it (and return what I got at Home Depot the other day).

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 9:59PM
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Heading to TSC for T posts and wire now - DH had planned on putting round PT fence posts in the corners, I told him that I had talked for years about doing a nice fence on the side facing the house there so figured while he was digging out we'd put 2-3 4x4 posts in (preferably cedar). So he is running DS to a Scout cleanup day in the park while I go to TSC, he is going to fill in the holes, we'll put up T posts and use cable ties to attach the 10 ft tall conduit that we use for the deer fencing and I'll use the same netting we used last year (may return the new roll if I buy from Farmtek).

I just need to get some fencing up ASAP so I can start the spring greens and cover those strawberries. But I'd better start shopping around for my fancy garden fence so we can plan the installation.

This post was edited by ajsmama on Sat, Apr 27, 13 at 18:52

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 11:02AM
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Yikes! Fencing is expensive! Following up a lead for PVC (6 posts and some pickets, I'd need to buy rails) on Craigslist but we may just go with TSC "CCA" (CAB? they don't use arsenic any more) posts. Truck wouldn't start today so I took the car and got the wire at least.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 5:51PM
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Pressure treated works very well for fence post, Cedar is so very expensive.

I cary 8' boards in my blazer, stacked between the front seats with the back seat laying down. Can't get alot, but I don't usually need alot. Our truck is down, until we get the gas tank re-secured and the cab mounts and another mount replaced. The truck used to be a salt truck and the salt really did a number on the underside.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 1:57PM
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Truck is running after charging the battery. Radio didn't sound weak (didn't check lights) but just not enough to turn over.

DH cut 6 ft hoops out of the 9AWG wire and I got bird netting up over the strawberries (going to be a pain to get in there, we put so many pegs in to hold it into the ground and keep critters out). Pulled a bunch that strayed, waiting to hear if my cousin wants them, if not I might pot them up tomorrow to sell ? DD helped me pot up a couple dozen cherry toms that were outgrowing the 7206 (is that the right term?) 6 packs.

DS helped DH put up the deer netting around the garden - DH put in T posts and cable-tied the ENT to them, but since he expanded the garden the 100ft we had from 2 years past wasn't enough. Only need 30ft more and I didn't want to cut the 100ft roll I bought at HD the other day so we just knocked off to clean up and run to local ice cream shop for burgers and cones before DS has another Scout thing. I swear he's got something going every night!

Still waiting to get pix from guy who has the PVC fencing on CL. But the T posts with ENT will be fine for this year, not sure we should leave the netting (or the ENT?) out over the winter but not going to pull the T posts now. DH was cursing - I guess they don't have rocks in TX?!

If I don't order from Farmtek or figure something by the time kale, etc. is ready to go in (tonight is 1st night outside) I'll just put up the 100 ft I have overlapping 70ft of it so I don't have to cut it - we'll probably expand the house garden more in the future, seems we do every year. Just means DH has to put in 2-6 more T posts ;-)

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 4:30PM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

So what is the consensus of what a low tunnel is? I have never called the little wire hoops tunnels not even 'low'. I just call them row cover with hoops. But is there a precise definition?

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 9:52PM
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Sheila, you probably have 1206 (12 pks of 6 each per tray).

From what I've learned from a conference, low tunnels are not high enough for anyone to walk inside. Usually plastic. Row covers are fabric like instead of plastic, but about the same height.

High tunnels are tall enough for a person to walk inside, almost a greenhouse, but NO supplemental heat EXCEPT Mr. Sunshine.

These definitions are what several states are using.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 9:26AM
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I figured if 3606 was 36 to a tray separated into 6-packs (what I potted up to), that 72 to a tray separated into 6packs that I started with was 7206? But if they call them 1206's, I guess that's it - I don't remember if I cut them, maybe they're 7212's or something?

Anyway, strawberries are covered with 9 gauge wire bent into somewhat semicircular hoops.

This post was edited by ajsmama on Mon, Apr 29, 13 at 13:37

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 1:09PM
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A 1206 has a total of 72 cells. A 7212 would have 864 cells which would be very very small. 36 cells are usually either 1203 or 1802 or 3601s.

Congrats on getting your strawberries covered. You will uncover for the bees, right?

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 3:24PM
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The bird netting I put on has 1" (I believe) holes, so bees should be able to get through. The wild strawberries on the south side of the house are blooming, but the ones I planted last year (Freecycle find, all I know is they're June-bearing) haven't. Most look good though. Supposed to rain and I have to pick up kids now so I will pull back the mulch more and thin tomorrow, I just removed enough from 1 side of bed to get the hoops on and the garden fence alongside, still have to get other side of hoops along stonewall straightened out and see what I need to thin (or fill in holes) in the middle of the bed.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 3:32PM
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