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Building a Hoop House



By Debbie Roland and Emmy Ulmschneider, Master Gardeners


Previously, we wrote in general terms about ways to extend the growing season in winter with a hoop house. But depending on the cover you use for your hoop house; they are also valuable tools for growing vegetables in our over 100-degree days or to provide a frame to keep pests at bay! You can simply and inexpensively build a hoop house to extend your growing season through the winter and prolong it in the summer. (See https://www.westtexasgardening.org/post/fall-tasks and https://www.westtexasgardening.org/post/gardening-in-winter for earlier details.)

Frame materials can be purchased at a local hardware store and binder clips are available at an office supply company. Once you have the frame you can cover it with a variety of coverings for different uses. Here is the shopping list:

Materials

Rebar cut into 12 to 18” pieces

PVC pipe that will fit over the rebar (½” Schedule 40 for most jobs)

PVC pipe cutter

Covering: row cover and plastic tarps for winter

agricultural shade cloth for summer

agricultural insect netting or bird netting

Large (2”) Heavy-Duty Binder clips that will fit over the PVC pipe

Gloves, hat

Protective eye gear



1. Site your bed. A south exposure will allow more warmth during the winter months but will be hotter in summer.


2. While wearing protective eyewear, hammer the pieces of rebar into the ground leaving 2-6” above ground. Space the rebar 2’ apart on parallel sides of the bed.


3. Alternatively, if you have a small bed, you can push the PVC into the ground.


4. Decide how tall you want your hoop house to be. Anything from 18” to 3’ at the highest point of the arch will work.


5. Cut your PVC pipe to the appropriate length. Slide the PVC pipe over the 2” of rebar sticking out of the soil forming a semi-circle covering the bed.


6. Spread covering over the hoops so that all four sides are covered; leave an extra foot to weigh down with a cinder block or rock weight. Attach the covering to the hoops with binder clips. Secure the cover on the outside perimeter of the bed, using your weights. Alternatively, use another binder clip above the soil level. For more insulation in colder months, try hay bales as weights on all four sides. Use a temporary plastic tarp over the row cover on the coldest winter days.


7. When you work in your bed, move aside the nearest weight and pull the covering back. Reattach the cover before nightfall or any inclement weather. If the hoop house heats up on a warm fall or winter day, pull the plastic back during the day.


8. In summer, replace the winter covering with agricultural shade cloth to provide some relief from the sun and over 100-degree temperatures.


If you have questions, call the AgriLife office in Odessa at 498-4071 or in Midland at 686-4700. Additional information, and our blog for access to past articles, is available at westtexasgardening.org. Click on “Resources”.

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