Step 2: Fall and Winter Gardening.

Hoop houses start being very useful in the fall. You can cover the hoops with fabric as the weather starts to get cold, protecting your tomatoes from light frost, and keeping them nice and toasty. Sometimes, we have a frost in early October, and then it can be fairly warm right up through December. This method will save your plants. 

In the fall, you can start planting spinach, swiss chard, bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, lettuce, and anything else that can stand the cold. 

I use one layer of fabric in the fall, then as it starts to get very cold, or when we are going to get snow, I add a layer of plastic. This brings the climate of my garden from Massachusetts, to the equivalent of Georgia.  

This is the fabric I used: http://www.johnnyseeds.com/p-5452-agribon-ag-19-83-x-50.aspx
This is the plastic I used: http://www.johnnyseeds.com/p-7709-tufflite-nursery-clear-greenhouse-film-10-x-100-roll.aspx

For the winter, I made two large hoop houses, each one covering three beds. This was easier, than individually wrapping each house.  There are several ways to secure the fabric and plastic. They sell plastic clips. They work okay, but they tend to tear the fabric, and they tend to break, and get lost.  I find they work best on the ends of the rows. putting spare wood and fence posts worked the best to keep the fabric down. I would put them on top of the fabric on the ground, and push them right up to the beds. 

When everything freezes, it stays in place. Nothing keeps the plastic secure like feet of ice and snow. 
In the spring, I used extra hoops, (the wonky ones) and rested them over the houses. That helped keep the fabric from blowing around too much. 

Now, plants do not grow quickly during the winter, I was able to harvest chard, lettuce and spinach most of the winter. You can go look the plants in the morning in the winter, and they look wilty, but it's just from the cold. They perk back up once the sun warms up the house.  

Because I covered the grass between the beds, it stayed nice and green all winter. It was so pleasant to go into the hoop house, sit on the grass, and pick spinach while it was cold and snowing outside. It smelled like spring all winter long. 

For more info about what to grow during the winter check out this book. 

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.
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!
Thats awesome. I would love something like that, but this is a much cheaper alternative. :)
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.
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. <br> <br>lots of luck! <br> <br>meghan <br> <br>
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
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.

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Bio: I am a domestic engineer, aka. a stay at home Mom. A former science geek, scenic carpenter, and quilter.
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