Building a Hoop House within the Greenhouse
A few weeks ago, with the help of our Aunt "T", we managed to get the greenhouse moved from its former home at my in-laws to our backyard. This was really the inaugural move towards our backyard food farm. But we live in SW Ontario, Canada, and so early March is actually a terrible time for most seedlings outdoors - and our greenhouse isn't particularly breeze proof.
So we improvised. We built a mini hoop-house to go inside our greenhouse so that some of the seeds I needed to start would have a fighting chance.
In the past, I've started most of my seedlings under a grow-light in the basement. I would have done the same this year, but since deciding to add a cut flower garden to our outdoor project, all grow light real estate was filled with little flower seedlings leaving absolutely no room for any vegetables ... of course, this may mean I'll need to expand my grow-light operation in the future, much to the dismay of my poor husband.
On to the hoop house.
To begin the project, we measured out the length and width of the benches we built for inside the greenhouse. The goal was to have the hoop houses sit nicely on top of the benches to allow seeds to germinate quicker and protect littler seedlings from the cool nights.
As seen above, we used 2" x 2" wood lengths to construct the frame and 1" PVC piping for the hoops - both which we sourced from our local hardware store. We used two pieces of wood for this project. Once the frame was screwed together, we measured out where the hoops would be on the frame (centre, edge, and halfway between those two points - equalling five hoops total for the 56" long bench.)
Nick used the drill's spade bit to achieve a hole for the hoops, and we shoved them into place. This took a little bit of elbow grease, and upon review, we will add glue to secure the PVC in future hoop houses.
Next, we added our plastic covering.
We used a standard 8mm poly plastic to cover the hoops (also from our hardware store). We cut the plastic to the length needed - but did not cut the width right away. We then stapled the poly to the outside of ONE side of the frame. Pulling the poly over the hoops tightly (you'll need two people for this part), we then stapled the second side and took an exacto knife/blade to trim the remaining poly off.
IMPORTANT: We did not staple down the ends in order to allow for access to plants and some air flow, but cut them down so that they could be bunched up to cover the ends. We also did not put poly on the bottom of the frame so that we could safely place a seedling heated mat under the hoop house if needed.
About four days ago, I started a tray of kale and green bunching onion seeds and placed them under the hoop house. It was fifteen degrees celsius when those went in the seed starter. Since then (and because it's April in SW Ontario), we've had snow, freezing rain, wind, and summer-like temperatures. I'm happy to report that these seeds have begun to germinate within the hoop house - which, retaining the heat from the seed mat as well, is nearly 5 degrees warmer than the rest of the greenhouse.
See the little itty-bitty green sprouts? That's kale.
The two seed trays on either side were just started yesterday, so I fully expect they'll take a few more days to pop through. So far, though, I'm happy with the results.
I also have a bunch of radishes and spinach starting under my greenhouse bench (planted directly in the soil, and only trampled by the dogs about 30 times..)
All in all, I'm happy with our make-shift hoop house. We'll store it during the hot summer and pull it out again in the fall when I am growing cold-tolerant veggies like lettuce greens, turnip, and carrots. It will definitely help extend our growing season by a month or two.
Thanks for dropping in and reading! If you have any questions about the process, don't hesitate to drop us a comment.