PO Box 2458, Tijeras NM 87059

Mountain Gardens--finding success with plants for the high desert and East Mountains of New Mexico

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Fast, Economical Hoophouse

A while back, I shared a bit about the hoophouse class we took at CNM's Workforce Training Center. Today, we put our class material to the test as we finally erected the arcs for the hoophouse. I already shared  some pics of the foundation work we did--today we erected the arcs for our fruit tree house--none too soon for the trees should arrive in a little more than a week.

Wink and Nathan spent about an hour cutting the lengths of 2" pvc, then positioned all the pieces. To recap, the trench will hold the 5 gallon pots which will be buried to capture the heat from hot water that will be circulating under them. While the tops of the trees don't need warmth, the covered hoops will keep out wind and varmints.

 The twenty foot lengths will form an arch about ten feet high. We needed to glue up a series of rectangles, each formed from two long and two short sections.

  It was cold, in the 30's, and we were concerned that the pvc was going to resist being bent. (Windy too, but when isn't it?).

The rectangles get braced against the 2x10s on the left, and Aly stood on the side piece to keep it from popping up.
 It took both Nathan and I to push the bottom (after I got a quick picture), but we still needed Wink to pull in order to force the piece into place and brace it behind the railroad ties. (We drove rebar down the outside edges of the wood to keep it from being forced out by the pressure from the bent pipe).

I think we were all a little surprised when that first rectangle went up just like our instructor said it would! So far we've put up five commercial hoophouses, and they've all been difficult (not as hard as our first house though where we milled our own beams), and I was dreading this. But it went together easily, without a single hitch, in a matter of maybe three hours.

  As each rectangle went up, it was attached to the preceding rectangle with a short length of pvc so the arcs are all on 4' centers. We anchored the bases to the wood on both sides with plumbers strap.

We screwed lengths of 3/4" pvc along the sides of the hoophouse and were again surprised as how much stability the hoops gained. Both ends are braced laterally as well.

 We won't cover the house with plastic until we get all the pots in--much easier being able to pass them through the open ribs. 5 gallon pots get mighty heavy after the 90th or so.

 Still have to rig the solar pump and heater--but this was the hard part, or so we thought....


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