Hoop House! (March 3 Garden Project)
The hoop house is up! The hoop house is up!
In an effort to outwit mother nature and provide fresh greens all winter long, Ellen and I thought we ought to give this hoop house thing a try. We dutifully consulted our Eliot Coleman books and were assured it could be done and that if we put a hoop house up with floating row cover inside over the beds, that double layer of warmth can help maintain some plants we already have (kale, chard, leeks) and also start others like beets, arugula, tatsoi, spinach. Oh, the hearty greens we’ll eat in the dead of winter!
Here you see my friend Kirk surveying the work on Day One (read all about Day One here), which involved putting up the PVC structure. Looks like a beached whale:
We’ve covered three 30″ beds and they’re twenty feet long!
There was much engineering going on in my head and I’m pretty proud of the door. I learned it all from my dad!
Next step was to cover it in plastic.
I was pretty excited to find these at the hardware store. They’re plastic hangers for PVC pipe. I hit the bike shop for some used inner tubes to protect the plastic and give the clips a little more purchase. In all honesty, they hold pretty well, but they do pop off occasionally when the wind blows. If there’s an Achilles heel on this project, it’s these. We’ll see how they make it through the winter.
Now I’m thinking caterpillar:
Here’s the north end in place. The warmth inside was immediately apparent. Note the ropes criss-crossing over the outside of the plastic. This is my attempt to contain the plastic as it swells from wind.
And today the south end went on. As soon as I can get to it I will build two “windows” between the slats that will open to allow heat out. Hard to imagine right now, but I guess there will be warm, sunny days when it could get too warm, so there will be these two hatches and the door to open for venting. The A clamps you see holding the center together can also be removed to let hot air out.
Why do all this work? I guess it’s kind of like being a kid again and building a fort. Ellen keeps referring to it as the “man cave”. The other reason, of course, is…
…it is November and we have these beautiful, delicious tatsoi and carrots starting. They need a safe home!
Will it work? Who knows. But we have to try. Our guru Eliot Coleman says there’s more to winter life than storage crops, so we’re going to give it a go!