This winter has been cold and nothing if not unpredictable. Here in Tennessee we're experiencing a warm day every now and then followed by extreme cold. Hopefully now that March has arrived and spring is close things will be shaping up very soon. With that in mind I put together a project that will help me to get a jump start on my vegetable planting this season: a mini-hoop house. I grow most of my vegetables from seed and a hoop house is an ideal way to thwart the cold and get those spring and summer vegetables started early. Lowe's provided my materials for this project as part of their Creative Ideas program.
A hoop-house is essentially a greenhouse. Typically a hoop house will cover a garden area to heat it up enough to extend the season. Once warm temperatures arrive they can be taken down or covered with another material like shade cloth to grow cool season crops longer. While a large hoop house is probably restrictive in many subdivisions due to HOA rules a small one that covers a single bed and is portable is an excellent way to get an early start on the vegetable garden!
To build this mini-hoop house I gathered some cedar fence boards (which I like to use for a variety of projects), PVC molding, 1 1/4" deck screws, Velcro tape, and 6 mil plastic. You could make a couple of these for under $100.
The PVC molding strips were something I've wanted to try working with for a while. I spotted them at Lowe's one day and though these would make excellent ribs for a greenhouse so I decided I would adapt them to a smaller scale. I still may go back and gather up some 12' long pieces and put together a greenhouse later.
To put together the mini-hoop house I build a base frame out of the cedar planks. Each base is made from 2 5 foot lengths and 2 35" lengths. The fence panels are dogeared so You have to subtract about 2 inches from each plank to compensate which leaves you with two 35" pieces from each board (3 boards will make each base). I pre-drilled the holes in each side then screwed the corners together with the 1 1/4" screws.
Then I started the screws in each hole. I've found that it's easier to stick a screw part way into each hole while it is on a table then bring the pieces together to attach them rather than screwing them while holding all the parts together simultaneously.
Next I carefully bent each 8' piece of PVC molding to fit on the inside of the base frame. I screwed them in place from the outside. The outer ribs (PVC) were screwed in from both sides this way the rib was attached to the small end to help relieve some of the tension it would exert on the long sides. The middle rib was only attached to the side board. If this were a longer mini-hoop house I would need thicker wood for the base or I would need more reinforcement between the long side pieces.
Next I used the Velcro tape to create a removable covering. Get the strongest tape you can for this as it will be subjected to the environment.
The Velco tape makes it easy to open up the mini-hoop house when access is needed to work in the vegetable garden.
What is nice about this hoop house is that I can start my seeds underneath it, get the plants hardened off, then move it to another location to start more. It's light enough that one person can move it around but heavy enough the normal weather conditions won't knock it over. A couple brackets on the side with some rebar stakes would probably make it even more secure.
I hope you like this project idea. If you have any questions feel free to post in the comments and I'll do my best to answer them!
Labels: DIY, greenhouse, hoop house, Lowe's Creative Ideas Project, SpringIsCalling