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November 23, 2017

In My Alaska Garden – We Finally Built My Hoop House!

Josh the Builder of the Hoop House Skeleton

I deeply apologize for not publishing a garden post the last two Sundays. The first one I was drowning in writing and activities for the Hand Recount and last Sunday I was in Fairbanks being a delegate to the Democratic Convention.

Believe me, I preferred to be in the garden!

This weekend is very exciting for me because I’ve been anticipating building a hoop house since the Botanical Garden Spring Conference in early March! Now, we finally did it!

And when I say “we,” I mostly mean Josh!

First, we started out with some great, detailed instructions for a 10′ x 21′ PVC pipe hoophouse. However, due to wind and other considerations, I made some alterations to the equipment list:

Instead of using 3/4″ PVC pipe, I chose to use 1/2″ EMT conduit. I figured the metal might make it sturdier than the plastic. I used 3/4″ PVC pieces for the spine, however.

I bought 1/2″ screw bushings to fit inside the “t” connectors and cross connectors. That way, I could screw the metal pipe into the plastic connector.

Because we used the 1/2″ EMT pipe, I had to find something different to use as stakes that fit inside of the pipe. I chose 24″ lengths of 1/4″ rebar.

I bought a box of 20′ x 100′ plastic sheeting for the cover. I bought it at Lowes. They had boxes on the internet of 20′ x 50′ (perfect size) but they wouldn’t deliver to AK.

While we bought some of the “snap” tee connectors to put across the “spine” to hold the plastic on, we ended up using binder clips only as the snap tees ripped the plastic.

While I’m still working out how I want to do the door on either side, we now have a functioning hoop house!

Mostly Done

I bought some velcro to test out on holding the plastic up to keep the doors open in the day. I’ll be adding to the post tomorrow, and add to the post when I do.

So, it’s not perfect, but what do you think?



25 Responses to “In My Alaska Garden – We Finally Built My Hoop House!”
  1. russellsq says:

    Cheers to the Hoop house. Reminds me of my former drama student I met in London last weekend on her way to Congo. Arianna has devised a portable greenhouse that she and other PSU kids are setting up to help the african farmers sustain crops during dry spells etc. Gives me such hope that the next generation may indeed save the earth.
    Slainte to all

  2. zyggy says:

    Thank you first of all Linda for sharing this with us. I’m so looking foward to seeing the hug crops you’ll see from your hoop house. That should be one hoopla hothouse by July. I thinking you might get away with trying green peppers in there.

  3. Zyxomma says:

    Lovely hoop house, Linda and Josh. Enjoy it in the best of health.

  4. blue_in_AK says:

    Very nice, Linda. This will serve you quite well. I’ve done this before, although on a much smaller scale. Happy gardening!

  5. Stephen Gingrich says:

    AIH stocks more sizes of Visqueen. They have 6 mil, and reinforced. Of course, more expense.

    • More expensive and less light getting through…but 2 mil probably wouldn’t make that much difference in the light.

      The urban farmers I’ve asked have stated that there is no need to go heavier than 4 mil. However, they may not have the same wind issues we do at our little swamp at the foot of the Hillside (it’s like a wind tunnel between Seward Hwy and Lake Otis).

      It’s actually good that I have enough plastic left over to completely cover the hoop house if the current plastic gets thrashed.

  6. Diane says:

    I missed the tour that Cornell had.
    We have a 10 X 10 raised bed that I am thinking of putting a hoop house over in the fall.
    Are you going to grow your summer crops in it?

  7. John says:

    Looks great. And for those of us who only want a tiny garden, we could build it on a smaller scale.

    • I almost scaled it down to 10×12 instead of the full 10×21. However, we decided to go for it. We can always divide it if we wish.

      • UgaVic says:

        By the time you get all your goodies in it you will want to double it:-)

        I am using these to hold the plastic on my low hoops in our windy conditions.

        A couple of places carry them too, so you can look around. IF the corners of these seems like they will rip on your plastic we have taped the corners with some clear heavy packing tape but with the 6 mil I use it has not been an issue.

        I am SO excited for you, and the family, to get this put up!! Love hubbies who build and help our dreams come true!!

  8. OtterQueen says:

    I’ve never seen one of these. What does one grow in a hoop house?

  9. SJ says:

    You might find that the first break in your plastic occurs where the corners, even though they are slightly rounded, of the binder clips work through, especially if you get much wind. I put a small cut of non-skid shelving cover under each as I clip it on so the corner isn’t so “sharp”.

    When you get going with this you’ll likely be looking for a cover material that will hold up better (or at least I sure did) and there are some very tough coverings out there. I use one that holds up for many years; I have a year-round application here that is going on it’s 14th year and I think it will make it through another year or two. Maine climate. The pieces I use for seasonal hoop houses still look pretty much new, although there are a few patched places where a coon was determined to get at my chickens.

    You’ll be tickled and amazed at what a difference it makes in your gardening, both in ease and yield.

  10. Alaska Pi says:

    Aside from being jealous you have the space to make a hoop house, I’m pretty jazzed for you, Linda!
    I’m messing around with long, narrow hoops this year and having a bit of a go with attaching the covers so wind doesn’t take em away 🙂
    Binder clips might be a way to go at it…
    Congratulations to your “we”- what a sweetie he is.

    • benlomond2 says:

      you might try the following.. on my mini-hooper, I have horozontal pvc pipe about 2 ft off the ground. take some thin 1″ wide slats the length of your “hooper” and with the plastic drawn tight, between the slat and the pvc, use self tapping screws to clamp the plastic in place.. The pvc pipe gives some structural support. I drilled holes in it and ran the hoop ( 10′ rebarb bent over) thru them…if need be, drilling pilot holes in the slat and pvc makes it a bit easier to get the screws in place.

      • Alaska Pi says:

        oh- cool idea! might stand up to the wind here on the ridge.
        will send you pics!
        eating spinach and greens grown outside under cover now- yay!
        don’t be telling me about your dang tomatoes either 🙂
        spinach is good enough for a start here!

  11. merrycricket says:

    TCW, your Grandma Shorty’s words of wisdom always puts a smile on my face.

    I’m still basking in the glow of my mother’s day weekend with baby Hannah and my son and daughter-in-law. They both started new jobs recently and things are looking good for them.

    Linda, your hoop house looks marvelous! I like the binder clip idea. I got to tour an urban farm yesterday. It’s still in the building phase but is producing a few things. They are raising chickens and selling eggs. Recently, some one broke into the chick house and stole all of the broiler chicks. Over 40 of them. There isn’t anyone on site round the clock yet. So the owner is asking for a few volunteers to care for the broiler chicks until he gets the house on the property rehabbed enough that he can move in. Guess who might be raising a few chicks? 🙂

    In my garden, I harvested broccoli this past week. Yum. Yesterday, I released a pile of lady bugs. Last year the aphids got to my corn before me and all 16 ears were ruined. I’m not in the mood for raising food that the bugs won’t share with me! A couple weeks ago I had beetles on my newly sprouted bean plants. I gave them a hot foot with hot pepper water. That did the trick.

    • Zyxomma says:

      merrycricket, I can see you not only raising chicks, but falling in love with the raising of chickens. Lady bugs are great for pest control, lacewings are good for others, even dragonflies if the problem is mosquitoes.

      Hot pepper water is one solution, another is to soak organic tobacco in water until it colors, then put the water in a spray bottle. Bayer didn’t come up with neonicotinoids out of thin air; they knew tobacco kills a variety of pests.

  12. thatcrowwoman says:

    It’s wonderful! Mazel tov.
    This promises to be quite a journey for you and yours, Linda, step by step.

    I’ve been pondering baby steps /=/ giant leaps, lately, what with littlebird’s graduation last weekend and the end of my school year in sight. Sharing the wisdom of my ancestors, of blessed memory, with these young ones stepping out into our world brings me face to face with my own future, also, too. I’m kinda tired of playing defense; maybe it’s time to switch to offense for awhile, eh? Pondering, wondering…wandering…where was I?

    Some sage Grandma Shorty advice: “No matter how carefully we plan, things never go Exactly as we expect. Make your plans, set them in motion, then let go and enjoy the moments as they unfold, however they unfold.” She didn’t believe in worrying, either, saying, “Do the best you can with what you have, then give your worries to the Lord. He’ll be up all night anyway.”

    Grandma Shorty had a way with plants, inside and out. Her breakfast nook had windows on three sides, with tiers of African violets which she talked to while tending. Memories of her are filled with those violets, and the pansy border edging her sidewalk, and the backyard tree full of little bitty pears we’d race the squirrels to eat, and fresh-baked bread and snickerdoodles, and the cellar with all those jars of chow-chow and piccalilli and jams…

    May your hoop house bring you much pleasure, Linda, and many happy memories.

    No gardening on my list today.
    Happy calls it my big bag of water, but I call it my starter pool. 🙂
    I scooped all the leaves and frogs out yesterday and started scrubbing. This morning I’ll finish cleaning it; by afternoon, I should be filling it. I’ve got stacks of books to read this summer, and look forward to a routine of swimming before breakfast, then reading on a float for hours and hours…

    The pool prep work out has reminded me of muscles I’d forgotten, though, and inspired me to renew Michelle and Ellen’s push up challenge. Seriously, Thursday I could only do ONE Real push up; I did 10 “girl” push ups from knees rather than toes, and 36 push ups on the wall. Talk about room for improvement! My goal is 25 Real push ups without stopping. Ask me in August! 🙂

    Have a lovely day, all y’all, no matter where your baby steps and giant leaps take you.

  13. benlomond2 says:

    that should work just FINE !!!! …. and it WILL get WARM in there!!

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