Building a Hoop House

To extend the growing season my plot neighbor, Janet Murray, and I built a hoop house.  It was an ambitious project and we were flying without a net, so to speak.  We both did our internet research on hoop houses and cloches and we talked to some other gardeners but we discovered there's not a lot of information out there for gardeners of our caliber, that is to say community garden gardeners.  Most of what we saw was way too big for our purposes, or too precious and expensive.  We needed something fitting for your average urban victory garden.  We decided to put our heads together and build one together on her plot and share it.  I had started lettuce in late August and it was coming along nicely so our plan was to transplant my lettuce to her plot, leaving me with the opportunity to amend my soil between now and spring planting season.

It turned out to be a bigger project than we thought so it took two weekends to complete. We met on the first weekend and measured the plot and came up with a lose plan.  Then we made our trip to Home Depot and headed straight into the concrete reinforcement area.  Straight away we found the perfect material (and if either of us could remember the name of it I'd state it here!).  To make the hoop we bought four pieces of ten foot long wire reinforcements.  Our idea was to attach the wire supports to a wooden frame of 1 x 2's.  After the wire supports were trimmed a couple of feet they were attached to the frame.

Next we set it up in the plot.  Then Janet fastened a brace across the top and the plastic was laid over it.  Another brace was bolted on top to secure the plastic (and prevent it from blowing off when we're out there harvesting greens in the snow).  Then we carefully transplanted my bok choy, Amish bib, red and green oak leaf and Tom Thumb lettuces along with Janet's ginger, black raddish seedlings and Italian greens.

We're proud of our homemade cloche.  It's a little rough around the edges but I learned a lot and will be thinking about this design and how to make improvements for next year.  In the meantime I should be harvesting lettuce until the end of the year before it gets too cold and dies back.  By mid February I can start new lettuce and not long after I can start a tray of vegetables to be transplanted after the last frost.  Considering this all cost us about $30, it should pay for itself rather quickly.  I'm looking forward to a continued harvest.