After reading about the $50 greenhouse
I quickly decided I needed to make one of my own. The summer season was winding down and I knew I wasn't over my newly found lettuce addiction. I need to grow well into the autumn and even winter. Time for a simple hoop house.
Part of all my homestead construction is an element of recycling and reusing. In fact, I insist on it. So, I need to assess my materials quickly and start planning. I had about 195 sq. ft. to work with in my garden. My budget, as my wife told me, was little more than $40. If I had bought everything I probably would not have topped $100. Luckily though I only needed to purchase plastic and some PVC connectors. All said, I spent about $29.
After looking at two local greenhouses/hoop houses and a few online I opted to use 20 ft. runs of 1" PVC pipe. They were affordable and - more importantly - readily available in town at the local hardware. I figured that if I needed to create joints or add structural support I could hacksaw the piping and use connectors to rejoin. (You will read later where I did, in fact, have to do this).
NOTE: Getting the 20 ft. PVC home took little more than patience, a couple of feet of string and a standard 6 ft. truck bed. I just put the pipes in the back of the truck, tucked them behind the side mirror of the passenger side door, tied them at both ends and drove really slowly.
When I got the pipe home I began to layout the basic design. My garden spot already had 'hitching posts' in the ground so I determined that I could bore out 1" holes in the wood and insert an end of the PVC to create the main skeleton of the house.
Once I saw the pipes spanning from post to post I quickly realized that I was going to need some mid-support. I scrapped together four (4) 1" x 2" wood scraps I had that were each about 8 ft. tall. I cut them to create a cradle in which the PVC could rest securely in and be supported by. This step is probably optional and mid-supports could be made out of more PVC or any other material you may have lying around. Just be careful not to have too many pointed areas which may rip the plastic or cause punctures.
The 1" x 2"s also had to be put into the ground so I ended up using post hole diggers to dig about an 18" hole I could buy the sticks in. This might have been the most labor intensive part of the whole project.
At this point I moved on to making some cross-supports for the hoop house skeleton. I measured the distance between each "hoop" and decided 12 PVC 'T' connectors would easily do the job. Back to the hardware where I spent about $0.28 (cents) on each connector.
Back at the garden I cut my remaining PVC to allow for the connectors and to give final support for the structure before draping the plastic. When completed I was quite please that the slope of the hoop house was quite even and would hold the 4 mil. plastic securely and allow complete drainage in case of major rains.
NOTE: Because I live in middle Georgia snow is not really a concern so I am not sure if this design would hope up well under lbs. of snow.
And now, for the plastic....
The plastic is the most important part of this whole project. Because of it we are able to amplify the fall/winter sun and grow our plants in an ideal temperature throughout the in-climate weather seasons.
The plastic sheeting I chose was plain non-UV stabilized 4 mil clear plastic. I was able to get a great deal on the plastic by asking the hardware if they had any scraps or were willing to cut a much larger roll. They were willing to (perhaps a benefit of a struggling economy???) and went about cutting a 20 ft' piece from a 100' x 20' roll. Cost? $17.50.
If you do have the resources I now recommend spending a few extra dollars and purchasing greenhouse plastic that has a much higher thermal and light transmittance rating. This will certainly be a consideration on a future (and larger) greenhouse or hoop house.
I will admit that while draping plastic sounds remarkably easy, it is anything but. Several times the wind got under the sheet and I nearly went around the world in 80 days. I quickly enlisted a few extra hands and began the effort of securing the plastic. Once it was draped I determined that staples would not only rip the plastic but just wouldn't hold up. It was time to improvise.
I ended up using scrap plywood and a pneumatic nail gun to sandwich the plastic, so to speak. It worked beautifully and allowed for greater tightening/securing of the plastic as well.
My last real step to this point was to add some cinderblock and gravel to the bottom of the structure in case of water puddling and/or varmints.
This weekend I will be adding the door as right now I am simply slipping under the side to water and check on the lettuce I already have planted. Be sure to check back for more of this hoop house DIY!
All project images can be found on this flickr page