Hoop Houses

OkiePokieMay 16, 2011

I found a cheap enough version of a hoop house that I think I am going to try to put one up this year. I was curious if anyone else uses hoop houses and how they fair given the oklahoma winds? Also can anyone spot any issues that might arise with this particular style of hoop house?

Here is a link that might be useful: $50 hoop house

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You might look at the Kerr Center website at the way they tie down their plastic. We took their class on building hoop houses and built a small version for raised beds. Our plastic area is fairly small, but the ties work very well and they say they do on the full size, too, even in strong wind. They use a washer since they use metal pipe, but since there is wood at the base of your plans, I'd think a large eyebolt on each side would work. Basically, you run a rope from the base of the pipe so it goes on one side of the plastic, over to the other side and back on the other side of the plastic. You can see it in the first picture of the hoop house in their slide show. If you want to download their plans, there is a link on the right side of that page. We haven't lost or had any torn plastic yet.

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

    Bookmark   May 16, 2011 at 4:21PM
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That might be a good idea. One of the things I didnt like on his plans is that he staples everything down, I was thinking I might try leaving the frame up and throwing a screen over it to grow some self pollinating squash in the summer (I am curious as to how much more squash could be grown without interference from the bugs)... With the tie method it seems like it would be easier to take off the plastic. I will look at their method and see what I can incorporate on the cheap. Have you had good results with the hoop house? Do you think it is worth it? What would you have done differently knowing now what you know? how do you use yours primarily? Have you had any issues that I should be aware of?

    Bookmark   May 16, 2011 at 5:49PM
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We have 3 raised beds that are covered by mini hoop houses, a little over 4 feet wide and ranging from 8 to 12 feet long and about 40 inches high. They are made just like the Kerr houses except for the size and the ends. I painted the pipe with green paint to make them a little more attractive.
During the winter, I use plastic over the hoops and row cover over the crops. We're in southern Ok so we don't need too much protection for many months. I grow lettuce, kale and such. I may not even put plastic over the hoops this year and just put the row cover over the hoops. When it got down to 1 degree this year, I left one open so our cats could get in it while it was so cold since they are not tame enough to stay in the house. Very little froze. I think protection from wind was more important than trying to keep the temp up. I buy seeds that say they do well in cold.
Last summer we bought a roll of deer fencing for something and then didn't use it for that. This summer I cut it up to put over the hoops to keep out the cats and other critters. Eventually I'll take the net off, when things get tall.
It doesn't take long to change out the covers for the different seasons. When we were at the class and they were putting the cover over the full size hoop house, it didn't take too long to tie it down, but it seemed to work best with a person on each side, to toss the pieces of rope back and forth at each pipe.
Hope this helps, even though we don't have the full size house.


    Bookmark   May 16, 2011 at 10:20PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

We are building a hoop-house style greenhouse from a kit. We have the frame up and haven't put the greenhouse plastic on yet because every time we have a free day to work on it, it is too windy. Now that we're so deeply into spring, I think we won't put the plastic skin on the house until late summer or early fall since it would be too hot to have anything in the greenhouse now.

I have toyed with the idea of covering the framing with floating row cover material and growing squash and pumpkins inside it this year in an effort to defeat the dastardly squash vine borers, but haven't yet decided if I will try it.

I'm going to link an index of hoop house articles from the Ardmore-based Noble Foundation. They've been doing research into the use of hoop houses for as long as we've lived here, and have all kinds of hoop house info on their website, including directions on how to build a big hoophouse as well as mini hoop houses (also known as low tunnels) over individual beds.

There are several people in our neigborhood and in our county who've had small hoophouses or larger hoop-house style greenhouses for years, and theirs have held up well in the winds. Occasionally, though, when the winds are in excess of 50 mph or when there is vey large hail, the hoop houses are damaged. You do have to replace the plastic every few years.

I always enjoy reading the Noble Foundation's research results because they're here in southern OK, so they're growing in the same conditions I have.


Here is a link that might be useful: Hoop House Info Index at Noble Foundation Website

    Bookmark   May 17, 2011 at 9:27AM
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Dawn, if you do decide to put a cover over and growing squash inside the hoophouse let me know how that works for you. I am curious if that is a good summer usage of it rather than having dead space or having to take it down each summer.

I am assuming that I get a better return on a large hoop house as opposed to the low tunnels just due to the mass of the building and the materials inside acting as a heat sink during the day. I am assuming that the larger the heated mass the slower it cools down at night and so the hoop would stay warmer than a large number of mini-hoops, hence giving me more grow days during the winter. Is this correct?

Also has anyone ever heard of installing a dog door on one of these? The wife and I thought it might be nice to give our dog another place to go to get out of the wind once in a while.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2011 at 9:49AM
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I had a low tunnel in my garden during our BIG storm. My neighbors roof blew off in the storm and his guttering landed in my garden. The tunnel was covered with row cover and it didn't even blow off. It got a few small holes where flying debris hit it, and a tomato cage fell on it, but it didn't blow away.

I am planting a low tunnel today which will be covered with row cover until the cold weather comes, then the row cover will be dropped down lower over the crops and the hoops will be covered with greenhouse plastic. I have it planted, mostly in salad crops. It is 4x16 and planted with seed directly into the ground. Just need to go water it and cover it back up.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 2:18PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


Sorry. I never came back to this thread in 2011 and answered your question. My hoophouse is 12' x 24' and even with 50% shadecloth (Aluminet) on it and with all 4 vents and both doors open, it is too hot to use in summer. Without a fan running, it hit 140 degrees this summer, and with a fan it still was incredibly hot. I mostly use it in the cool season. Of course, inside a hoophouse during the day, it is going to be hot because of the greenhouse effect, so I have to run a fan...and that is with shadecloth on the hoophouse. In Feb.-April of this year, even on cloudy, overcast days and with shadecloth, open vents, open doors and a fan running, the greenhouse was over 100 degrees. It is too bad it doesn't hold that heat at night.

The issue with hoophouses made with a single layer of greenhouse plastic is that they are just as cold at night in winter as the outdoor air unless you're running a heater in there. A hoophouse with two layers of plastic sealed together with an inflator that blows air in between the two layers of plastic might stay a little warmer, but mine only has a single layer, so I am just guessing at that. I think even with an air-inflated double layer of plastic, you'd have to run a heater on cold nights or even on cold days.

Plastic alone just doesn't hold in the heat, and I never expected it to. Before we built the hoophouse, we already had a glassed-in, unheated sunporch that is toasty on winter days but cold at night.

I mostly use the hoophouse to raise seedlings for transplant into the winter/spring garden. I start them inside on a light shelf, and move them out whenever the weather permits. The hoophouse is an intermediate step between them growing indoors in a very controlled, heated, environment and going outside into the elements. Before we built the hoophouse, I would have to carry the plants outside to harden them off in ever-increasing increments of time, and then carry them back into the house, garage, potting shed or sunporch to get them out of strong wind or to protect them on a cold night. This past spring, which was admittedly warm very early, I moved the plants out to the greenhouse in late January or early February and never had to carry them back inside, except for pepper plants, which stayed inside until March. On a few chilly nights, I draped Agribon over them inside the greenhouse to give them a little cold protection, but they did just fine in the unheated greenhouse at night even when the temperatures dipped down into the low 30s and upper 20s. The Agribon is what kept them from suffering freeze damage. I've used it in the garden for years on cold nights, and it is wonderful.

A large hoop house that is not heated will not stay any warmer than low tunnels, and I know that because I've used low tunnels for years. Hoophouses don't have insulation, although you can purchase and add bubble wrap type insulation. Busy One has some on his greenhouse and you might be able to do a search here and see what his looks like inside when he has the insulation in for the winter. I know he posted photos to show me when my greenhouse was still in the dreaming/planning/building stage. I haven't tried using large containers of water, for example, as solar collectors to see if they'd help the hoophouse stay warmer. I might try that if it ever cools down enough this fall for me to grow some winter crops in the hoophouse. We were in the 100s last week, and are in the upper 90s still and the greenhouse is still in the 110-120 degree range every day.

My hoophouse hasn't been exposed to a lot of strong wind yet, but withstood 62 mph winds during a severe thunderstorm with no issues whatsoever. It also has withstood straightline winds in the 50-55 mph range that brought down some trees in our neighborhood.

Carol, I have some of my hoops up, but haven't put the covers over them yet. I do have a row cover floating over the snap peas, but I'm letting it float without hoops. I probably will put up row covers over some of the hoops next week if the grasshopper population doesn't start dropping off like it normally does at this time of year. So far the hoppers are only eating purple sprouting broccoli and sugar snap peas. They have put a few holes in the leaves of southern peas and bush snap beans, but not enough to hurt their productivity. Normally we are seeing fewer hoppers at this time of year, but in this oddest of years, we are instead seeing more and more as new ones keep hatching.

My cool-season crops probably would be happier if I'd drag out the shade cloth and put it over them. They are hanging in there pretty well, considering the high heat, ultra-low humidity (we bottomed out at 12% a couple of days ago, but only went down to 18% today) and gusty winds. I'm surprised how well they are tolerating the heat, all things considered, and I would have put shade cloth over them from the beginning if I had realized that September's daytime temperatures were going to continue running 10-15 degrees above average.

Late today some of the lettuce and kale looked a little wilty and I had to promise to water it in the morning so it wouldn't sulk.

As soon as it cools down some more, I'll move the container plantings to the greenhouse, but at the rate we're going, that's not going to happen for a while yet.

Elected4life, I see that you are new here. Maybe you need to go back to the "instructions" and note that no advertising is allowed in any of the forums. I do not mean that in an unkind way, but this is iVillage's forum and that's their rule.


    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 10:52PM
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mksmth zone 6b Tulsa Oklahoma(6b)

here is the hoop house we just finished framing for mine and my parents tropicals. It is 10x12. I need still need to get the 6mil plastic on, hopefully before this cold front gets here. We bought a 20k BTU natural gas ventfree heater that should keep it pretty warm. I just need to maintain at least 55 degrees for my citrus and other things. Dawn is right though. without a heat source the out and in temps will be the same at night.

The hoops are 2 10' pieces of 1" pvc and when spread to 10' at the base we get about a 7 and a half foot tall arch.
we just built it off of ideas and what others have posted on the web.


    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 9:27AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


It looks great! Your tropicals are going to love it.

Mine is 12' x 24' and I never really intended to heat it, but I have been toying with the idea of partitioning off half of it and keeping that half heated.

This will be my first full winter with it because we didn't get the plastic put on it until last Jan. or Feb. I was so shocked it got so hot inside on sunny winter days and quickly learned I needed to keep a fan running and the vents open on warm, sunny days. It is too bad it cannot hold all that heat inside at night and keep it from dissipating.

Mine was most useful in the winter months for raising seedlings. I started them inside on the light shelf but moved them out to the greenhouse as soon as possible (you know, so I then could start more seedlings on the light shelf), and I didn't worry too much about them getting too cold at night. Since it was a warm winter, I only had to move the seedlings to the well-insulated garage on a night or two. On one of those nights, I almost didn't move them because the forecast said "32 degrees" but I was antsy and nervous and moved them, which was a good thing because we went to 22 degrees that night. On other nights, though, even when the 30s were in the forecast, I just put a double layer of Agribon-19 over the flats and left them in the greenhouse, and even when it dipped down to freezing, the plants didn't freeze.

This year I am going to grow some cool-season veggies like lettuce, spinach and salad greens as well as green onions and radishes in containers in the greenhouse as part of a learning experience to see what sorts of things I can use it for. I also have many containers of pepper, tomato and herb plants I will move into it tomorrow before the second cold front reaches us here. Those plants, and the figs and citrus trees in pots, are the reason I'm thinking about heating half the greenhouse this winter. Otherwise, I'll have to carry the potted trees inside the house, and the largest fig tree is so big that the greenhouse would be a more convenient setting for it.


    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 10:04AM
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