Hooray for a Hoop House!

IMG_3880I’ve been wanting a hoop house for a very long time. Ever since I discovered how easy it is to grow lettuces and radishes, I’ve wanted to extend the season. They are some of the easiest vegetables I’ve ever grown, aside from potatoes. The problem is, I live right on the edge of Zones 5 and 6, so I don’t have the climate for year-round gardening without some help.

A few years back, I bought some old windows and built some raised beds to fit them, so I could have cold frames. They were great, but they didn’t survive a particularly severe thunderstorm. And they didn’t sit high enough, which limited what I could grow.

Now, I don’t have to worry about that–I’ve got two hoop houses! In case you weren’t in the know, hoop houses are basically a frame that holds plastic above the ground to protect vegetables from frost and ice. They can extend the growing season here to hopefully 10 months–maybe longer if we don’t have a particularly bad winter. They don’t hold as much warmth in as a full-on green house, so you couldn’t grown warm weather vegetables, but they are perfect for cool-weather crops like lettuces, radishes, beets and kale.

I planted some arugula, kale, radishes and black seeded simpson lettuce a while back, and it’s not quite ready. I’m hoping that this lets me continue to harvest these veggies until it gets too cold. They might even last all winter if we don’t have an extended stretch of days below freezing.

There are a number of DIY instructions on line for making a hoop house, but in the end, it’s pretty simple. I bought several pieces of two-foot rebar at Home Depot, which I pounded down into the corners of my raised beds. I also bought several feet of plastic tubing at the local ReStore for next to nothing. It was about one inch wide. I picked up some heavy-duty clear plastic at my local lawn and garden store. I just popped the tubing down over the rebar, spread the plastic down over the hoops, and stapled the heck out of it to the sides of the raised beds. Easy peasy. Speaking of peas-y, I might try some of those bush pea plants early next year under these hoop houses.

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They look a little trashy in the back yard, maybe, but I’m pretty excited! If any neighbors complain, I’ll just offer them some radishes.

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I just have to remember to not let the soil dry out. That could be the only thing holding me back from near-year-round gardening.

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