Easy Season Extension: PVC Hoop House

Do you practice season extension in your garden?   Extending the season is what it sounds like- extending your growing season longer into the fall/winter (or earlier in the spring). Some common methods are floating row cover, cold frames,  and hoop houses.

It rainy climates, such as Seattle, a hoop house will keep all that excessive rain off the plants. They will also protect your plants from the wind, raise the inside temperatures at least 10 degrees, and keeps frosts and heavy dew off tender leaves.   (They don’t, however, eliminate slugs as I always hope everything will do. Logical or not.)

grow and resist hoop house season extension

It is our first year doing any official means of season extension. I have overwintered things over the years without taking any precautions.  But kale doesn’t really count. The stuff grows here no matter what you do to it.  This year I was committed to installing hoop houses.  We have the raised beds. Adding a hoop house should be simple right?

Yes, I was right. It was ridiculously easy. I am kicking myself for not doing it years ago.  Easy, Inexpensive.  And the supports should last forever, the covering plastic a long, long time.

Even the Babylady helped.  To make, we went to local orange box hardware store, which I loathe with a passion reserved for few very stores.  But I was with the Babylady and the small hardware store I tend to use has small, narrow aisles. Perfect for one small child to pull crap off both sides of the aisle at the same time and causing me to have both a panic attack and a hot flash.  So off to HD I went, child in tow.

Supplies needed: rebar stakes in 3 foot lengths (2 pieces for each pipe) , ½” PVC pipe in 10 foot lengths, 1” binder clips/bulldog clamps, and a roll of 6 mil plastic sheeting.

You’ll put a hoop every 4 feet or so. I didn’t measure but you want to divide up the bed you are trying to cover into roughly equal sections about 3-4 feet apart. I don’t think I’d go further than 4 feet as it will decrease the overall stability.

To put in hoop you’ll drive rebar stake in to ground on each side where you have decided to place your sections.. I used just hand pressure but if you have more difficult soil you might need to drive it in with a hammer.  Our raised beds are made of cinder blocks, so it was easy to drive them down into the hole.   They aren’t all even in height but are all securely in the ground.

grow and resist hoop house season extension

Next you will slide one end of the pipe over  a piece of rebar until the pipe touches the ground.  Then grab it, bend it over (into hoop shape) and thread it over the opposite rebar until this end touches the ground.

grow and resist hoop house season extension

grow and resist hoop house season extension

You can see the far side has been started. You'll reach up and grab the end to finish the closest side.

grow and resist hoop house season extension

Repeat this for each hoop section.

Unroll sheeting so that it will hang down over one end of your hoop house.  Secure in place temporarily with binder clamps.

To determine length go to opposite end and make sure the sheeting will cover that end and cut.   The sheeting should now cover the top and the sides and have an opening on each end.    Just a little hint:  The length you don’t really want to eyeball. Trust me. I did and it is ridiculously long so I ended up with a useless piece of plastic sheeting that is probably too small to do anything with and I’ll need to buy more. Boo.

Lastly, you’ll even the sheeting out from side to side. Apply binder clip to top center of each hoop to secure sheeting.  Apply additionally clips to base of  hoop on each side.  To secure the ends grab a piece of each side and a bit off the middle and secure with binder clip.

grow and resist hoop house season extension

grow and resist hoop house season extension

On warm days you’ll want to open the tunnel ends to allow for air flow.

grow and resist hoop house season extension

Don’t forget you’ll still need to water and manage pests (slugs, I’m looking at you!) as necessary.

I am hoping we can keep ourselves in lettuce, spinach, chard, and radishes for the winter!

*Interested in the making of our raised beds?  Check here!

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13 Responses to Easy Season Extension: PVC Hoop House

  1. The ground is so damp (or soon will be) that you won’t need to water at all. One thing you will need to worry about is mildew. There is so much condensation inside the plastic and it’s warmer in there so if you get any it spreads like wildfire. I keep the sides open during the day and close them at night, if ever. I put things that need the most cold protection in the middle and things at the ends that don’t really need protection (like collards or Jan King cabbage.)

    And don’t forget to check your plants for slugs and cabbage moth larvae! They love it in there…

    • Thanks Annette- too true. Slugs are the bane of my existence. I only get them in our raised beds. I have been leaving the hoops open during the days as you can see how much condensation build up was in the pictures. It wasn’t cold enough to need them when I put them in still. I wish I had planned ahead with what I wanted to plant in there–but there were things in place already.

      • I found things in November to be pretty forgiving of being moved around since they aren’t actively growing – they are just hanging out. This is the time of year I move things to pots so I can let them go to seed out of my way (for saving seeds in the spring). Or if I just want to consolidate so I can grow cover crops or get a bed ready with leaf mulch for early peas or carrots that can be planted in February. So don’t be afraid to put them where you want them now. It’s all a big dance but don’t forget you are the choreographer. It’s your show baby.

      • As always Annette, you are brilliant! I move things like crazy in spring. I dig big stuff and move it all the time. But I forget to do that with the little guys. I am moving plants this week! Thanks for the reminder!

      • You OWN those plants. Don’t let them push you around. xo!

  2. val says:

    Thanks for the tip–I was going to try row cover, but this looks much sturdier. In the past, I have used ready made plastic greenhouse covers to great success, but they are a pain to put up and take down if several feet of snow comes. It is amazing what you can do in winter (in zone 7 anyway). This year I was thinking I’d just see what happens, as supposedly you can harvest tat soi and mache in snow. My main problem is getting anything started in late summer like I need to, so they’ll be established enough to make it.

    I was having a hard time with slugs recently. I used a lot of straw mulch in my raised beds over the summer, and I created the perfect slug habitat! In addition to hand picking (ugh), I found the beer traps really do work. I read that you can make a yeast solution to drown them, which may be cheaper. I also have been sprinkling diatomaceous earth over my seedlings. Finally, my beds are wood, and I stuck copper tape on the edges. It all seems to be working. Good luck with those nasty things!

  3. I saw your project on Pinterest and wanted to drop by to let you know how much I love it! We don’t have a large piece of land for gardening and what a God-send this would be to extend our Michigan gardening season and even get a jump on starting spring here!

    Thank you so much for this helpful post.

  4. MooseheadAcres says:

    I recently read that to avoid slugs when growing giant pumpkins, spread sand around them to create a barrier that slugs won’t cross. I wonder if this would work around gardens in general as well?

  5. Nel Ruffin says:

    THANK you for the tutorial! I am new to Pinterest and have found it very frustrating that so many goodlooking projects are single pictures. leaving me with zero ideas on how to achieve the same results.
    On the slug front, I have found that giving them a goodly diatomaceous earth with a beer chaser works quite well. It really doesn’t take that much beer, either – jar lids are the perfect depth to attract and slay them.

  6. Pingback: Top Five. Or Note to Self- It Seems You Like Tutorials | Grow & Resist

  7. saltedplates says:

    I am definitely going to do this next weekend to get a head start on the growing season

  8. Pingback: Garden Hopscotch and Games | Grow & Resist

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