Instructables

Hoop Houses- Gardening all year long in New England.

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I love hoop houses. They are easy, and they extend the growing season to practically all year.  
I live in Massachusetts, either USDA zone 5 or 6 (it's debatable), meaning we get a possible low of -25 degrees F. Our last frost date is around May 31, and our 1st frost date is is around October 1st, leaving a fairly short growing season.  But with hoop houses this all changes.  Also, they keep the bugs away. No bites taken out of your spinach, and no slugs in your lettuce. 

You will need. 
  • a garden, about 4' wide, by however long you like. 
  • metal conduit
  • a conduit bender
  • fabric row covers
  • plastic row covers


 
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Step 1: Make the Hoops.

We used, and I would recommend 1/2" metal conduit, 10' long. They were about $1 a piece at the hardware store. 
Now you can bend the conduit by hand, you can make your own bender, or you can buy one. We purchased one from Johnny's Seeds.    We tried making one, but the hoops came out fairly wobbly and wonky. This bender gave us perfect arches. The arches don't have to be perfect, but they certainly look a lot nicer, and if your garden is visible from the street, you neighbors might appreciate it. 

I have 6 garden beds, each are about 4'x8'. I put three hoops per bed. That means the hoops are bout 4' apart. 

So, I needed 18 pieces of conduit. 

Once you make the hoops, there are a few different ways you can install them. 

I have raised beds, and I installed the hoops on the outside of the bed. It gives a little more room to the plants, and the hoops are not pushing the bed apart. It makes mowing the lawn a tad tricky, but i don't mind. 
My favorite method was to push the hoops about 6' into the ground, and I secured them with a pipe clamp. 

You can also just put them in the ground. They stay up fine, if you don't have kids swinging on them, or if you don't expect several feet of snow. 

The most secure way, although time consuming, it to buy some 3/4' conduit, cut it into 2' lengths, hammer them into the ground, so only a few inches are remaining, and insert the hoops. 






I love this! I am in southern NH and have been working towards doing something like this myself. I haven't been on instructables all summer because I've been out in the yard working :-) I built a tortoise enclosure which will double as a winter green house for the plants in containers but I really want a green house and hoop houses too. I love your ideas and would like to see more so I'm following you now.
Great Minds think alike. I designed and built a similar set-up for my backyard garden this Spring before I read this Instructable. In the Summertime I cover it with a type of netting to keep the Squirrels/Varmits out and planed to cover it this winter and attempt to grow veggies all year round. Thank you for the Winter-Time growing tips! 5 Stars from me.
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snotty2 years ago
So awesome!
I've got what is essentially a hoop green house. Its made from 3/4" pvc, about 8ft tall in the center, probably 8-9 feet wide at the base, and close to 15ft front to back. Has drip irrigation and power outlets. lol It came with the house when we bought it! It's awesome and handles everything I put in it!
domestic_engineer (author)  robertrunyon2 years ago
Thats awesome. I would love something like that, but this is a much cheaper alternative. :)
owlsquest2 years ago
I use shorter hoop style 'greenhouses' in the fall to prolong/ protect my veggies and have wondered if it was possible to extend their use into our winter here in the Canadian Rockies. Yours are larger but may be the solution. Will build the larger version using your plans over the summer and give it a try. Thanks for the Instructable. Have placed my vote and will reply back through the winter with my growing results.
domestic_engineer (author)  owlsquest2 years ago
cool. I hope it works out for you. I bet you get a ton of snow, and if you do, you might want to put up more arches, closer together, so that the snow doesn't collapse the houses. or i guess you could go out and brush them off, but that's no fun. we didn't get a ton of snow this year, (we got an unusually small amount of snow) so i'm not sure how they would hold up otherwise.

lots of luck!

meghan

This is awesome! Thanks for including photos of the winter/fall inside the hoop house - I've always wondering just how much will grow during those times. It's more than I thought. :D
domestic_engineer (author)  jessyratfink2 years ago
thanks. this was our first year growing during the winter. it was an extra mild winter this year, so we lucked out. I think things might have done well if it was a normal freezing winter, but we had some 90 degree days in early march, and it was nice to have plants already in the ground.