A hoop house is really a mini green house. It’s inexpensive and easy to build. We built ours for around $30 dollars, and constructed it in about 45 minutes.
What You Will Need for a 8’x4’ Bed (Materials):
• 4 PVC pipes (each 10 foot long & 1 inch in diameter)
• 20 C-clamps (1”)
• 40 x ¾” screws
• 3 pieces of 1×2 wood strapping (8 ft long)
• 8 small spring clamps (4 for each side to close the plastic)
• 1 sheet of clear plastic/ poly (16 feet x 12 feet) minimum of 3mm thickness
• 1 roll of duct tape
• staple gun & staples
Installing a Hoop House Over An Existing Raised Bed
If you already have a 4 x 8 raised bed, it’s very easy to install the hoop frame. Here’s how:
1. Attach one end of the PVC pipe to the corner of the raised bed using 1 C-clamp about 12” from the top of the raised bed, and another 6” below this one. Place the end hoops 1”-2” from the edge of the bed.
2. Once the 2 clamps are attached, make the “hoops” by bending the pipe over the raised bed frame and attach on the other side, again using 2 C-clamps (you’ll need two sets of hands for this!).
3. Repeat this for the 3 other PVC pipes so that they are evenly spaced, such that the PVC pipes on either end are approximately 1-2 inches from the edge.
4. When all of the pipes are attached, take one 8 foot-long 1×2 and attach it to the top of the frame using the other 4 C clamps. You will want to position the wood such that it lies perpendicularly to the PVC piping (hoops). This will provide additional support to the frame you have built. I would also recommend putting duct tape or foam over the edges of the board so that it doesn’t rip the plastic.
5. Lay the plastic sheet on the floor and run a piece of duct tape over both sides of the 16ft edges of plastic. When you have covered both sides of the plastic, use a staple gun to attach the 8 foot-long piece of 1”x2” to the plastic sheet (center the 1”x2” so that there is an equal amount of plastic sheet overhang on each side). Repeat on the other side so that each side is reinforced with the duct tape and stapled to an 8ft long 1×2.
Now that both your frame and the plastic cover are ready, you can assemble. To assemble, simply place the plastic over the frame such that the two 8ft long 1”x2” wood strapping pieces are lying on the ground along the longest sides of the raised bed frame. Tuck the wood strapping up against the raised bed frame on each side and use 4 C-clamps on each side to close up the plastic.
Note: If your raised bed is not 4’x8’, no worries! As a rule of thumb, when figuring out what length of tubing you need to give yourself the correct hoop arch, use a ratio of 2.5ft of PVC pipe for every 1ft of bed diameter.
Extend Your Gardening Season
I built my frame 2 weeks ago, and when the snow fell last weekend, my lettuce, radish and beets were all toasty warm and protected. In fact, it was so warm in the hoop house today (26 degrees), that I had to take off the clamps and let the heat escape.