Building Mini Hoop House for Winter Gardening
Winter Gardening Hoop House
Gardening is one of America's favorite hobbies and pass-times. Nearly everyone gardens in one form or another. Whether it's a small potted plant or a large-backyard garden gardening is a fun and rewarding experience. Hoop houses, also know as green houses, can be used to prolong and enhance your gardening fun. Hoop houses allow home gardeners to safely start their early vegetables and even keep some plants producing year round.
Three Uses For A Mini Hoop House In Your Garden
- Prolong the growing season. Keep late blooming/ripening vegetables safe from early frosts with a mini hoop house.
- Keep winter vegetables happy. Keep your winter vegetables happy and safe from the coldest and nastiest winter weather in a mini hoop house.
- Get an early start. Get an early start on the spring planting season by using a hoop house to keep seedlings and starts safe from late frosts.
Building A Winter Garden Hoop House
In practice they are more like a half-hoop house. It is not uncommon to see one built from pvc pipe, wood scraps or any other light weight and sturdy building material. The really industrious DIY'er might even use poles or lathes cut from saplings. Regardless of material used the idea is to build a framework that can go over your winter crops. The framework will be used to hold up clear plastic sheeting, forming a greenhouse over your garden.
What You Will Need
- Framework - depending on your materials this may require some additional tools. PVC frames are the lightest and easiest to work with after they are put together. The simplest method is to put thin rods or saplings in the ground on one side and then bend them over and stick them in the ground on the other side.
- Plastic Sheeting- this is where you shouldn't skimp on costs. Cheap plastic sheets will not last long in the sun and weather. Be sure to get at least 5 mil, more if it is available, otherwise you will be faced with repairing and recovering your hoop house at some point over the winter, probably when it is freezing cold and wet out.
- Fasteners - something to fasten the plastic sheeting to the hoops. This is best done with tent stakes. Lay the plastic so that it overlaps the ground on both sides of the house; Then use tent stakes to secure the plastic to the ground. Try to avoid using staple with the plastic, they will tear it prematurely begin its inevitable deterioration.
Things To Remember When Building A Winter Garden Hoop House
A few points to remember:
- Allow enough plastic to cover both ends of the hoop house. You do not want to make a wind tunnel for your vegetables.
- Allow enough room for a door. You will need to get into the hoop house at some point, be sure to make a door.
- Make sure that the poles supporting the plastic and the tent stakes holding it to the ground are secure. Wind can easily pick up a hoop house and blow it away if not properly secured.
- Plan for rodents. Your hoop house will undoubtedly attract rodents. It will provide them a place of shelter, warmth and food. Plan accordingly and don't be surprised when you find an unwanted visitor in you house.
Plants For Winter Gardening
The best plants for winter gardening are roots such as carrots and turnips, greens, cabbage, brussels sprouts and herbs. All of these will do nicely in the average winter garden hoop house. Simply construct your hoop house to cover the parts of the garden and plants you want. If you want to grow warmer weather crops such as peppers and tomatoes you may need to invest in an actual green house with climate controls.
Starting Plants Early In A Hoop House
Hoop houses are also great places to start early spring vegetables. I always leave room in mine to allow for a few trays of tomatoes, squash and other spring plants that can be damaged or killed by frost. Once the weather begins to turn nice, and before the last frost, use your hoop house to keep your seedlings alive and healthy.