Hoop House Project

Like so many during 2020, we decided to embark on a major at-home project to keep us sane.  I convinced my husband Jay, that we needed to build my dream greenhouse!

We started our garden six years ago with an amazing U-shaped garden bed that my brother-in-law helped us build. After a few years we were getting veggies but since we live in the Northwest we were always fighting our shorter growing season. One weekend I decided that I wanted to add a hoop house to our existing garden to see if I could give our plants a boost. I made a quick PVC structure that I screwed to the existing raised bed.  Then would use spring clamps to hold the greenhouse plastic to the PVC structure. We would add it on in the spring and then removed it in the summer when plants got too large.  This was the perfect starter greenhouse and we learned so much but after a few years I started to want a more permanent, larger and of course better built structure.

This was the perfect project for the pandemic as we had lots of extra time to spend in our yard since all travel dreams for the year had been canceled.  I of course had grand dreams of the kind of greenhouse that I wanted but our lack of ability and the cost quickly brought me back to reality. We settled on a design that I cobbled together from a few different sources based on the requirements we set out.

  • We wanted to have three permanent raised beds inside the greenhouse.
  • We wanted a work bench at the back.
  • We needed to vent the sides of the greenhouse while having a way to keep our new puppy out of the greenhouse.
  • We wanted the plastic cover for the greenhouse to be year round.
  • And I wanted an additional permanent raised bed on the outside on one side where I could plant cut flowers.

After much debate and way too many hours of watching DYI videos on YouTube we came back to building a hoop house design.  I was able to find a kit for the tunnel structure in our local area from Steve’s Greenhouses. Craigslist is a great resource if you are looking to purchase a kit in your area and skip the step of bending all the pipes. Of course YouTube can show you how to bend them on your own if you are so inspired.

After deciding our plan we spent a few days prepping the area to pull out the old garden bed and leveling it as much as we were able too.  Maya, our 5 month old Newfoundland puppy was very “helpful” in digging out the old dirt.  To no surprise she has continued to be “helpful” all year with digging new holes for us to plant.

Really mom I am “helping” dad dig the new garden.

The kit we purchased was 12ft across and then we decided to go 20ft in length since that fit out space the best. We started off by making and staining the outsides of the three long 20ft x 3ft raised beds which help define the structure of the greenhouse.

We placed the two large beds and temporarily connected them with 2×4’s to help us keep the spacing correct while we pounded the garden beds into the ground.  This made it much easier to attach the metal pipes to the greenhouse as we knew the spacing was correct .  Our kit had us first pound mental pipes in the ground that our hoops connected to those pipes.  We then screwed through both pipes and attached them to the sides of the beds.

Once we secured the frame, we started on the top and the sides.  We ran long 2×4’s along the inside of the house about 4ft up that we later used to secure the chicken wire to keep out our curious puppy.  Between each hoop on that same board we placed a second 2×4 that we used to secure the wiggle wire strips.  These strips are what we used to secure the plastic to the greenhouse.  They were also screwed along the front and back hoops of the greenhouse to hold the plastic in place on the ends. 

I realized at this point we got so excited about being close to completing the project that I don’t have as many step by step photos but you can see parts I am talking about in the photo below. And of course you can always email me questions!

We create two smaller 6ft x 3ft planter boxes that we put in the middle for additional room.  We used those boxes to help support the post that we put in the middle of the greenhouse that we connected with two additional 2×4 across the top.  We screwed them from the top of the pipes into the boards and then covered the screw heads with silicone so they would not rub on the plastic cover.  All of these additions really helped to create a very secure structure.

On the back end we made a bench for potting and growing seedlings. We are planning in the future to add some more storage for hanging tools.  It also allowed us to secure the greenhouse plastic to the boards. On the other end we used a premade screen door from Lowes and covered it with greenhouse plastic. We later built tall planting boxes on the outside for more flowers for our pollinators. 

As the spring went on we put down ground cover and gravel on the inside. We used cattle panels to help support the tomates and also created trellises for the cucumbers and butternut squash. 

Overall we love our new greenhouse. We got lots of veggies this year especially considering we got our veggies in a bit later than usual which makes us super excited for this year. We were also able to extend our growing season with harvesting cilantro in December and then kale and broccoli in February! 

One thing that we are troubleshooting this year is the opening and closing of the side flaps. We have been attaching tension clips to the ends of the greenhouse plastic and using rope to tie them up. It works alright but the clips have ripped a few times when we tied the ropes too tight.  Over the long term this does not seem like the best option so we will be working on that this spring.

Would we do the same design again? Totally, it has been a great addition to our yard, it was easy to build especially with the kit and our yield from our garden was great!

 

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