This is Marjory Wildcraft. On this edition of Homesteading Basics, I’m going to talk about the lessons I’ve learned from several years of operating a hoop house.
The Easy Greenhouse Alternative
This is a hoop house that’s about 12-feet wide by 48-feet long. If you need a big greenhouse quickly and economically, a hoop house is definitely the way to go. In fact, for me, it was super easy. I actually built this thing with one finger.
Yeah, I said to my husband, “Hon, I want a hoop house right there.” He built it. He’s really handy, and he loves it. Actually, I did help some. Anyway, it really is pretty quick to put up, and it’s very cost effective.
My DIY Hoop House Plan
There are a couple of things we’ve learned about it. We’re growing here in Central Texas, and we get extremes of heat and cold. In the summer, we get a lot of intense sun here. What we found works really well is using a 70 percent shade mesh in the summer months. It provides a good amount of shade, yet allows a breeze to go through. We are able to grow things really well inside the mesh-only greenhouse.
In the winter, just taking the mesh off and having plastic on is the best way to go. The plastic definitely keeps the greenhouse nice and warm. We are able to grow fabulous plants all winter long.
The main thing about this is it creates a pretty big maintenance issue twice a year.
In the spring, we’re taking the plastic off and putting the mesh on. Then, in the fall, we’re taking the mesh off and putting the plastic on. We did operate it for a while with both the plastic and mesh on in winter, and we found that it just doesn’t work that well.
That maintenance chore twice a year is going to take about four people for a greenhouse this size. That means we get the whole family involved with that chore.
But you can use a greenhouse for all seasons if you’re willing to do that kind of work.
Plans For A Summer vs. Winter Hoop House
My other concern is that the mesh seems to be holding up really well, but I’m not sure what the lifetime of the plastic is going to be. I think taking it off and putting it back on adds extra wear and tear to it, and it may not last as long as it would if we just kept it in place throughout the whole year. I’ve spoken with different operators of commercial greenhouses, and it seems the plastic lasts anywhere from one to three years according to the different farmers you talk to.
Personally, I feel that that’s a lot of waste. But it does seem to be effective, and that’s the way it is.
This is Marjory Wildcraft on operating a hoop house. Again, if you need a big greenhouse really quickly and fairly inexpensively, this is a good way to go. We’re going to be doing a lot more about greenhouses and growing in greenhouses on future episodes of Homesteading Basics.
Stay tuned. I’ll see you on another one.
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