Return to the Market Gardener Forum | Post a Follow-Up

 o
Movable High-tunnels

Posted by jrslick KS/5 (My Page) on
Sat, Jan 30, 10 at 23:37

Needing some help. I am building two movable high tunnels. The steel tubing is ordered and should be here are Monday. They are going to be 16 by 32. This is as big as they can be for the space available and for the plastic I have on hand. These 512 square feet houses are going to be used three times on two plots of garden. They will cover 3000 square feet of indoor growing space in one year.

My question is making them movable and able to stand up to the wind. I was going to make rails out of 2 by 4 or 2 by 6's. This rail would be screwed, bolted, lagged into 4 by 4 posts in the ground. I would then attach a 2 by 6 base board on the hoops and then attach a 2 by 4 on to this that will actually allow the structure to slide, with some force.

I thought about setting a 2 by 6 on the ground and using it like a sled, with the base board attached to the top of it. THis method would have a lot of friction with the soil.

I thought about using small wheels used on chainlink fence gates and a metal pipe/track on the ground.

Most of the ideas are from Coleman's books. I even thought about rounding up a whole bunch of old drill press wheels and have the structure "roll" on these. I can't make up my mind what to do? Maybe one of each?

Can anyone think of any other ways I could make these structures movable?

I will include pictures once they are done. I am hoping to get them finished by mid to late February.

Work the ground and start planting in them by early March.

I am using a Potatoes, Pickling Cucumbers and Cucumbers, and Spinach rotation in one and Broccoli, Zucchini, and Carrots in the other. Just FYI. The structure will be over the potatoes and Broccoli until early April, then the structure will move to the next location and the summer crops of cucumbers and Zucchini will be transplanted into it and then the other crops will be finished off outside. Once they are done and all residues removed, I may plant a crop scallions or green onions and then in Mid August/ late I will transplant/start a crop to over winter. When it starts to get too cold, I will move the hoop back over the other crop.


Follow-Up Postings:

 o
RE: Movable High-tunnels

I actualy have a lot of experience with movable structures. The best method I have come up with is using 4x6 lumber, cutting the ends at an upward angle, sort of like a tobbogan, in order to keep them from digging into the ground. Wheels wont work in the garden, unless they are as big as a rototillers wheels, anyway they will leave a permanent gap between the ground and the walls, and anyhow it will be a lot easier to use a sled. How are you planning to move these structures, you might be surprised at how heavy they will be, me I use a tractor. Granted Im moving chicken coops. Also you can use T post for staking them down.
hope this is helpful
josh


 o
RE: Movable High-tunnels

jrslick,

At least one of the base boards will have to be removable. If not you'll end up decapitating all your plants.

I'd set it up like a railroad. Use wheels on your wooden rails. 16 x 32 hoophouse will be heavy and hard to push wood on wood.

Photobucket

Eric


 o
RE: Movable High-tunnels

This is how we have made ours for the past 12 seasons. Very movable, cheap and takes up little storage space when they are not in use. Other than plastic and some of the fittings they will last 15+ years barring heavy snow loads or very high winds (they do not do well in sustained 45mph+ winds) and since each unit is separate when something breaks you do not have to replace the entire structure or even a large % of it.

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


 o
RE: Movable High-tunnels

Eric, End wall design is all done. I am going to hinge the bottom 2-2.5 feet of the wall up. This will swing down and I am going to put a 12 inch toe kick board at the bottom, so the ends are going to be able to be opened 3 feet at the bottom. Plenty of room for clearance.

Josh, I was going to do the wooden rails, but I want to keep costs down, so I am leaning towards skids. I was thinking about screwing and lagging a 2 by 4 on bottom of the sidewall 2 by 6. This would serve as my skid. I am setting 4 by 4 posts, 4 feet deep every 6 feet on both sides. I will bolt the side-wall to the posts. This will keep the structure grounded.

As far as moving it. I am planning to attach two log chains or ropes to it and tie them to two trucks. I have the space to drive the needed 30 feet to pull them in either direction. If this doesn't work, I will borrow the neighbors 8230 John Deere and move them without a problem. I think the 200 HP will be enough! :)

I don't know how long of 4 by 6's I can find. However, I will check it out.

Jay


 o
RE: Movable High-tunnels

Jay,

Don't give up on the rails. You don't need chains and trucks and gasoline.

Photobucket

Eric


 o
RE: Movable High-tunnels

Eric,

Duh, that is what I should be doing. I was trying to put the wheels on the inside. The wheels on the outside would make more sense and easier to do. Now for wheels, any suggestions? something small and strong to hold up the weight. I wonder, would a small thick wall pipe with a carriage bolt and washers as spacers on each end with a nut on each side of the 2 by 6 achieve the same thing. I am trying not to spend extra, but I want to build it well.

Thanks again Eric!
Jay


 o
RE: Movable High-tunnels

Jay,

I'd stick with ball or roller bearings. Not sure if rod in a pipe with even grease would be very good. Also some pipe has an inner ridge. If you try it, find some smooth wall pipe. This little wheel would work great, but way to expense.
Photobucket

Any salvage yards in your area? Maybe you can buy wheels or bearings by the pound.

The upper 2 x 6 with wheel attached should overlap the lower 2 x 6. Just like the sketch shows. This acts like the flange on a railroad truck wheel. Keeps it from flying off the rail.

Eric


 o
RE: Movable High-tunnels

That is what I am looking for. Now school is over, I looked on the internet for some wheels like that. I found a lot of options. Most were between the $4-$8 range. That is cheap enough. I will just have to figure out the weight of the structure and purchase/find some wheels to fit those weights. I did wonder about that issue with a bolt and pipe set up. I also wondered about removing the wheels and just have a set of them to start off with. I would attach a board the same height as the wheel to sit on the ledge and bolt it together. I could save a little that way and see if it would work before I bought enough caster wheels for both buildings. I would only have to move the wheels twice.

Thanks for the help, I needed someone else to look at this with an open mind. Mine is one tracking pretty hard now! So much to build, so little time!

Jay


 o
RE: Movable High-tunnels

how about old skate board wheels, or roller skate wheels, you find them at the Good will stores and other thrift stores all the time, or even lawn mower wheels,

But Personaly this thing is sounding mighty complicated to me. If not awful rigid for a movable hoop structure. Your tying up land with permanent infrastructure, mind you this is from the mind of a full time farmer. You said before the way you farm is square footage conscious, Im just being open and honest, but the purpose of any movable structure, is to be , well, movable. What if in the future you wanted it out of the way, or that bed or two its stuck to heaven forbid becomes infested with something and you needed to move the structure way on the other side of your property. The idea sounds cool, but isnt production what your after. You asked for clear thoughts and these are mine.
josh
josh


 o
RE: Movable High-tunnels

Josh,

You are probably right. I just enjoy tinkering with ideas. Simple, most of the time is better.

Jay, Lets use know how your project progresses.

Eric


 o
RE: Movable High-tunnels

Thanks for the idea on those types of wheels, I will look into them.

I am after production and this is a way I can maximize production off a small space. With these two structures, I will be able to cover and grow crops earlier in the season, maximize the summer time and more importantly, maximize the fall and winter harvesting. Growing with these structures, I have, on paper and based on my own yield data and not something from a book, expect to gross around $2500 for the four seasons of growing time. With their cost around 1,100, They pay for themselves very quickly. My numbers are rounded down extremely. I am conservative when it comes to production.

Josh, this will be your first year of production in a high tunnel, correct? It will be fun to see how you like it. If you are like me, you will see the benefits very quickly. Earlier crops, higher quality, less stresses on plants and higher production. Actually, it is a way to grow more produce on less space.
If the ground turns bad, then I will move the whole structure and place it somewhere else. If the movable structure doesn't pan out, I will put them end to end and form a 16 by 68 foot structure and make it permanent.

I appreciate your comments and I am open for any discussion.

Check out the link below. It is a operation in Vermont. He has a 200 foot movable tunnel.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pete's Greens


 o
RE: Movable High-tunnels

The thing I like about our movable hoop house design is you can move the houses off of mature crops like tomatoes. this means I can start the tomatoes when it is still too cool for them and remove the tunnel when it is way to hot to have them in a tunnel. You cannot do this with the drag-able design without destroying plants.


 o
RE: Movable High-tunnels

Just wondering....if your purpose is to remove the tunnel when it becomes warmer, why not just put on roll up sides?

But then what do I know....I'm just a girl.


 o
RE: Movable High-tunnels

I still like the rail idea. The ends along with the baseboard would have to roll up, lift up or fold up, to clear the plants.

just a girl,

Jay wants to establish the plants on one plot, then move and establish on the next plot. Succession planting. A quick startup and move on system. Hope I got that right.

Eric


 o
RE: Movable High-tunnels

Keep us informed on how it works out.
Josh


 o
RE: Movable High-tunnels

Well I have all the materials, I think. I am waiting on some wiggle wire to come in. I am going to try to get the hoops bend this weekend. I have all the other material.

The movable tunnel is to establish cool season crops on one plot, get them growing well and get a head start. Move the tunnel and transplant in warm season crops. As the cool season crops give out, I will prep the area for the fall planting (unless I can feel I can squeeze another short season crop in). As the fall season starts coming, I will plant the fall crop and get it established. As the frosts start to show up, I will abandon the warm season crop and move the hoop building back to the original location and be ready for late fall/winter growing/harvesting.

The endwalls are going to fold up 2.5-3 feet and I will be able to move them over the mature crop or the growing crop with out any problem. I am planning on having pull up sides and top vents.

I will show pictures as I work. I hope it works out as I have in my head. These two twin buildings of 512 square feet each will cover 3,000 square feet in one growing season.


 o
RE: Movable High-tunnels

UPDATE:

I got started bending my hoops for the movable building. While I was wanting to go for a hoop shape, my father in law, thought a gothic shape would be easier. He does electrical and bends conduit all the time. So he thought he had more skills to do that.

Well we made a gothic shape, 16 feet wide. The slope probably should be more, but there will be plenty of head room on the sides. We bent three out of the 18 and they decided that they needed to go. Well without a helper I am done. I proceeded to work on the other projects. Slipped on a metal rack reaching for a piece of pipe and punctured my foot on a T post. Several shots later in the ER, I am home again with a sore foot. Now the wind is blowing 25-30 MPH, sore foot, and the temp is in the teens. Shot another weekend.


 o
RE: Movable High-tunnels

Here is a picture of the Gothic style hoop we made. As I said, I am happy with the sidewall height, but I am not happy with the slope of the top. Can't change it now.

hoop with 2 foot risers

Comparing the head room of the gothic and hoop mock-up.
Gothic verses hoop

Pile of already bent hoops.
Hoops


 o
RE: Movable High-tunnels

Jay, hope your foot feels better. I was trying to put a t-post in the ground this past summer and it sliced right thru the bottom of my tennis shoe. Didn't get stiches, but it hurt like a h**l Please continue to post pictures of your movable system. For some reason I can't get my head around it.


 o
RE: Movable High-tunnels

Jay, Sorry about the foot. I've done the nail through the shoe thing. When I was a kid, I was riding on the handle bars and stuck my foot into the spokes. Hobbled are for weeks

Maybe I can't see it in the photos, but sorry I don't see gothic. Gothic is more pointed at the top and rounded sides.

Rest up the foot and then keep going. I want to see this thing work. I like the concept and may have to do a smaller version.

Eric


 o
RE: Movable High-tunnels

Jay, that's the same shape that we will have when we get the new carport up. Can't you bend the very top alittle more to get more angle? I know it's probably too late if you have already placed the legs in the ground. Plus it would make your ground space alittle smaller.


 o
RE: Movable High-tunnels

Eric: you are correct, not really gothic, but somewhat similar. I can't really do more of a point, I wanted a rounder top so the plastic wouldn't rub real bad.

Marla: After I was driving to work today, I see what you mean about carport. I drove by some and I think that is what we bent. I may try to bend one into a steeper angle. That would make it shed snow better.

I sat down with a protractor and graph paper and maybe I could get it to work, but I am really losing a foot of head room at 30 inches in from each side (the outside beds will be 30 inches wide). Well I have to make one of them the way we started. I only have one extra pipe. We ruined one trying to build the first one. It sounded better on paper. Maybe I will try a bigger angle on the second one.

Only problem is I wanted to have a back up plan to be able to put all the hoops together and make one large structure if the movable thing doesn't work out. Making them both different would mess that up.

Jay


 o
RE: Movable High-tunnels

My carport/canopy has T-connectors at the top of each peak, then a pipe between the ribs. Also a T-connection at the bend for the legs. The leg T is a 45 degree while the top is a 90 degree bend. We are going to screw the pipes together and then cover all connections with duct tape to protect the plastic from any 'burrs' or screw heads. This is how our 10x20 was put together. Then we buit the end walls like you would a house wall. To join to different widths of greenhouse sections, you might need to make one in between the 2 different sizes. Of course, if there is not much different, it should work.

Sometimes those protractors and compasses make things harder, but I do understand. I'm forever using A2+B2=C2. It drives hubby NUTS. Math was NOT one of his things, but carpentry is. It's like talking 2 different languages and saying the same thing.


 o
RE: Movable High-tunnels

Maybe I should bring that extra pipe to school and we could bend it up for a hands on demonstration of A2 + B2 = C2 That is what we have just covered in class last week!

I don't know. I wanted to do a gothic shape first, but I settled on the round. Then my FIL gets involved and now I feel that I need to finish them the way he helped me do it. This has become a bigger project than I first expected! Working with PVC is so much easier! Stick one side in and bend around to the other side!


 o
RE: Movable High-tunnels

Jay,

Yes, I agree. Don't change the shape now. You have two complete and what fourteen to go?

Jay, How old are you? College? Are you a teacher? I can see this project going very badly with to many hands involved. If you have access to a auto shop class maybe they can use the exhaust bender on your pipe.

Eric


 o
RE: Movable High-tunnels

Eric, Jay is a math teacher. I didn't think of an exhaust bender, my hubby has the conduit benders of his father's. It will also bend galvanized pipe. He would make a jig and then used the jig to make sure the angles were right.


 o
RE: Movable High-tunnels

Eric: I am a 6, 7, and 8th grade Math teacher. I had spare time this year so I picked up the 8th grade science too! Taught 4th grade for 5 years prior to this. I am 33 years young. I am the father of four girls and have been married for 10 plus years.

No bender at our school, although I never thought about that.

I am the only one with his hands on this project. My FIL also, but he got me started and left. I am hoping to get my BIL to help me bend the remaining pipes. I know what I am doing now and I just need a second set of hands.

I just wish I could have a nice 2-3 day stretch to work on garden stuff with out disruptions or cold weather. I really need to get these structures built as I am planning on planting in them in early March 10-15th. I am starting broccoli to put in one this week. Tomatoes and peppers get started this weekend too! Man, this garden season is sneaking up on me.


 o
RE: Movable High-tunnels

Jay, do you start your broccoli in the house, direct seeded, or do you start them and then transplant them. I'm having problems with them getting really leggy under the lights.

I can't wait to get started on my carport/canopy. Stupid snow is coming in every 3 days or so. Can't wait til it gets warm.


 o
RE: Movable High-tunnels

I have started mine inside for the last two times. They didn't get too leggy, but I did move the lights right down on top of them. I also started them in a tray and transplanted to a small pot. This year I am going to start them in 72 plug trays and then pot up. If it warms up some before transplanting time, I will move them to my one small hoop house outside. Regardless, they will get hardened off in there.

Jay


 o
RE: Movable High-tunnels

Tip for the 72 plug trays. My son has been bringing them home from the greenhouse that he works at. they get plugs for some flowers, then throw the trays away. When he can get to them, he brings them home. Check and see if you have a local greenhouse that you can do the same. I'm going to try the broccoli again soon.


 o
RE: Movable High-tunnels

Marla,

Have you started your broccoli? How are things going?

Eric


 o
RE: Movable High-tunnels

Haven't started any more broccoli yet. Still uppotting tomato and peppers, probably close to 800 toms and 200-300 peppers. Weather hasn't been cooperating. It was in the 60s today, but they are calling for a high of 38 for this weekend and possible snow/ice. Our rain barrels did get filled back up this last week.

Hubby's not working now, so he will be helping more in the market business, talking to plants if nothing else.

Tonight, we got the new canopy frame up on legs. Now we have the 10x20 plastic covered canopy and a 20x20 canopy frame to be covered, I hope. If not, it will be the store front/sales center for this year.

Tomorrow, another day of uppotting. Next week, the grandkids have spring break from school and they want to start planting seeds.


 o
RE: Movable High-tunnels

Broccoli is started. I have over 200 plants to go out. Probably ASAP. I am going to start hardening them off tomorrow and Thursday.

Update on Movable Tunnels:

They are almost finished. It has been so cold, rainy, snowy, and I have been busy, that they aren't ready as early as I wanted.

Everything is turning out very well. The only thing I am not 100% crazy about is the angle of the top. I wish we would have made it steeper. After redrawing it, it needed to be about 50-55 degrees. Mine are about 30-32 degrees. While I think it will be fine, they just look like two movable carports! They are remarkably strong. I grabbed onto one purlin and did a chin up on it. Keep in mind I am a 275 pound guy! My wife did the same thing, except she is 125 pounds. It made her feel better.

I am going to finish the wiggle wire track tomorrow and maybe get the plastic on. It depends, I have lots of other construction work to do!

Jay


 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!


Return to the Market Gardener Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.


Learn more about in-text links on this page here