Thursday, October 25, 2012

Extending The Growing Season... Red Neck Style!

This year we decided to extend the growing season by making hoop houses over 2 of our grow boxes.  I had a different idea in mind when we put these together.  I thought we would be able to fit the pipes into T fittings and it would hold.  However, they ended up snapping and breaking so we ended up doing it red neck style... we had to save the greens before it froze!  We used 8 1/2 inch PVC pipes, 12 small metal brackets with screws to anchor pipe to grow box (see picture below), and wire to wrap the pipes together for 2 boxes that are 8x4. 

Loosely secure 6 metal brackets onto the grow box, 3 on each side, measuring evenly between all 6. 

Slide the PVC pipes into place and secure the screws tightly.

Cut an additional pipe into 3 sections fitted and measured to be secured in between each hoop. 

Fit the 1/2 inch pipe into a T and secure to hoop with heavy duty wire. Pipe must be cut to fit into the 3 T's.

She's secured down red neck style!

You will need the heaviest plastic you can find.  This is 6 ply.  If you can find 8 ply, that is even better.  Cut to fit the box so it hangs past the ground.

Secure with rocks or extra squash...   Be sure to check the weather and give the plants air to breath especially if it gets over 40`, they can cook!

For additional protection you can use a fabric row cover.  I place this over my crops and then put the plastic over the hoops.  I purchase mine at Steve Reagan. 


  1. Emily,

    Great blog. Very practical stuff I am trying to interest my oldest daughter in. She is our beekeeper and "prepper".

    You can use a low flame from a weed burner, or possibly a propane soldering torch at a distance or a 1800-2000 Watt hair dryer or heat gun (using it in a 70+ degree environment) should allow the PVC to bend to the angle that you need in order to get it to work on your narrow raised beds. You may have to get the temp up into the 140-165 deg range in order to get it to its plastic yield point. I have used this on larger schedule 80 (heavy duty) 3" PVC conduit with great success to get the necessary bends to make it around objects in foundations, etc. It should scale down, you will just have to experiment. If you built a jig out of plywood or some heat resistant material, you would have perfectly repeatable results every time as it cools within the constrained geometry you have set for it. They also make 200+ deg F heat blankets that we use in our non-autoclave cured floor panels and composite repairs in aerospace that would probably produce sufficient heat to work in a low production environment. These could be marketed with your cold frames of your self-sufficiency business.

    The last paragraph on the recent blog post on Summer Garden 2012 was written specifically for you and your family.

  2. We do these same hoop houses over our raised beds

    but haven't found a plastic that will hold up for more than one season. Have you found a resource you are happy with?

    (I'm Natalie L. neighbor and love your blog!)