Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Hooping it up!

Fall is my favorite time to garden in Texas.  Northern gardeners love the summer and hang it up in the fall, but I personally could do without summer gardening down here. Having to get someone to plant-sit because it's too hot to leave them unattended is a chore, and who enjoys working in the garden when it's 100 degrees??

Not me.

That's why I've gotten into mini hoop houses.  They are very easy to build and can be reused for several winters (or for shade cloth in the summer, if you just HAVE to put in that summer garden).

There are lots of ways to build a hoop house, but I like to use 10 ft electrical conduit.  It's quite sturdy, cheap, and UV resistant so it doesn't break down quickly in sunlight the way PVC can.

The design to the left has a base and is attached with pipe strap.  Purlins (straight beams) are attached with UV resistant flex ties to keep the hoops upright.

The Citizen Gardener program uses a different method to stabilize the hoops - a board is routed with holes that will fit the hoops and then held in place using a  washer or O-ring on each side of the board.  Side benefit: this gives you a wooden surface to which shade cloth can be easily attached.

The Citizen Gardener program attaches the hoops to a raised bed using a 2x4 that has been routed to create a hole large enough to insert the hoops.  These 2x4s are attached on either side of the bed and then the hoops are fitted into the holes.  Plastic is draped over the top and attached to the sides using greenhouse tape and a staple gun, or you can simply drape the plastic over and secure it around the base with bricks.  I've done this for many years and it's a flexible way to cover for frost.  I actually had plants survive a 4 day snowstorm in Dallas (yes, you read that correctly) a few years ago, so don't underestimate the effectiveness of this technique!

If you'd like to take part in the Citizen Gardener program, the next class is in Mesquite.  It's an 8 hour class, covering two Saturday mornings:  September 15th and 22nd, 830a-12p both days.  Click here if you'd like to sign up.

My goal is to get some mileage from my gardens once the heat is gone.  What's yours?


Brian Gallimore said...

I wonder we should start using the gray pipe for Citizen Gardener too?

the Seed Starter said...

I have some if you want to try it out. It's more rigid than the PVC, and it's supposed to be UV resistant, so it might last longer. It is cheaper too...about .80 / piece.