Author Topic: Hoop house/tunnel gardening  (Read 501 times)

R.R. Book

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Hoop house/tunnel gardening
« on: April 24, 2017, 05:53:01 AM »
Hi all,

I've recently opted against erecting a greenhouse in favor of setting up hoop gardens. I was inspired by this recent goofy video: http://mikesbackyardnursery.com/2017/03/how-to-make-a-backyard-greenhouse-with-four-hula-hoops/  :)

Have had a wide range of experience with raised bed materials.  Railroad ties have lasted a decade or more without rotting, but are extremely heavy and difficult to position and are soaked with creosote.  Cedar planting boxes rot within 5 years in our location.  So, for smaller crops I ended up investing this year in 2X4 1-foot deep galvanized troughs from Tractor Supply for around $85 each.  They should last the remainder of my lifetime and beyond.  I had the flexibility of adding one at a time as my budget permitted, though in the end I got several and spent as much as a small greenhouse might have cost.  However, these fit much more easily into my landscape, don't block any view, are a comfortable height to work with, have many of the same advantages (once amended) as a greenhouse, and are difficult for small pests to scale up the sides with their claws.

Instead of the green hulahoops or other pvc tubing, I found strong steel hoops for a dollar each at a local Amish greenhouse and stocked up.  I did invest in some bales of potting soil and peat moss to begin with, and made a lightweight 50/50 blend, then worked my own compost into it, as I simply didn't have enough extra compost on hand during the winter to fill all the troughs, with most already being used in the berry and sunchoke patches.  One of my sons drilled holes about an inch up from the bottoms of the troughs on all sides, and then the tubs were pushed together in rows where appropriate in the landscape.  These could be painted to suit, which I probably won't do, but Martha Stewart's celadon green comes to mind for a nice patina effect. :)

I used the steel binder clips that I already had on hand to attach fine black netting to the tops of the hoops. Pollinators are managing to enter and exit beneath the netting, but I may want to open one side in the daytime, when many of my garden pests are less active.   We've not had any night time freezes lately, but I also have lightweight clear plastic sheeting on hand ready to add under the clips if needed.  I found these in the paint section of a local store.  Heavier clear vinyl is also available on table cloth bolts in fabric stores that would be handy in colder weather. 

I did cut up an old leaking professional grade rubber garden hose as one film suggested to make the fatter clips needed to clamp netting down, but found that this expands and contracts with the weather, so inexpensive spring clamps purchased in bulk worked better.  Will use these over the rubber hose clamps so as not to rip the netting.  Will experiment with straight pvc pipe to roll my cloths up from the ground at the sides, as well, as shown in the films.

Hardening off for Px flyby: Am planning to add galvanized hardware cloth in arches over the troughs in the near future.  This may protect the planters from small debris, but will not protect from larger debris much more than wide open gardens would be protected.  The roll-down netting and drop cloths may, however, help to protect these more delicate small to medium sized crops (strawberries, garlic, chives, Lincolnshire spinach aka Good King Henry, skirret, butterbur [antihistimine plant], miner's lettuce, chickweed, and non-bitter dandelions) from Px tail dust and possibly from the flyby bacteria that Marshall warned about.

More similar films:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NZmPDPx6GCQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oOPMOCGlAX8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=efQYpzNJOiE

Will take photos as soon as this long rainy spell goes away.

What are you trying?


   
« Last Edit: April 24, 2017, 06:36:09 AM by R.R. Book »

ilinda

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Re: Hoop house/tunnel gardening
« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2017, 03:39:11 PM »
That first video link was a tad funny overall.  She makes it look a bit easier than it might be, still one has to start somewhere.

What are other people trying?  For years I've sworn "I will keep predators out of my strawberry bed this year", and each year I hatch a new plan.  This year was no different, and again wildlife managed to get in to my wooden rectangular box covered by hardware cloth.  I used the kind with 1/2" openings, and think a mouse crawled through.  Can't be certain, so I redid it using 1/4" hardware cloth, but it was not custom cut for the box and something has gotten into the box.  So instead of being angry, I have decided next year I'll use a long concrete block raised bed (already built and filled with garlic for now), and will cover the bed with hardware cloth top.  If anchored down, it should be impervious to just about every predator. 

Your galvanized troughs are a good idea, as my farmer friend buys old galvanized swimming and wading pools (usually leaky) when she can find them at auctions, etc., and she grows an amazing amount of produce in them.  She said the same thing you mentioned--that the predators have trouble clawing or climbing their way up the metal sides. 

She also has some much smaller rectangular ones that are on legs, and may be similar to yours, except hers are recycled from an unknown purpose, but they are deep enough to hold a good amount of soil.  She can even grow good carrots in them.  It is amazing what people can find at farm auctions, as this same friend and hubby have picked up a number of absolutely huge water tanks, and they have connected them to about every downspout of the various farm buildings, and use that water to water the garden.

And your hardware cloth arches are excellent idea, as I too have been pondering how to protect "stuff", and where to store greenhouse glass during the worst time.  Probably under a thick metal roof or maybe concrete roof.
Thanks for sharing.

R.R. Book

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Re: Hoop house/tunnel gardening
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2017, 04:22:14 PM »
Hi Ilinda,

I've had the same experience with my strawberry beds, due to using chickenwire on top instead of hardware cloth.  The squirrels defiantly stick their paws right through the holes in the chickenwire and help themselves.  As soon as I get done planting, will turn my attention to maintenance before berries appear.  Hope you'll let us know how your concrete block raised bed works out, especially with tying down the hardware cloth.  Would love photos!


R.R. Book

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Re: Hoop house/tunnel gardening
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2017, 02:38:37 PM »
Sun finally came out, so adding photos of the hoop gardens, labeled with contents. Protective hardware cloth arches not up yet - needs to be done soon.

R.R. Book

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Re: Hoop house/tunnel gardening
« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2017, 01:05:05 PM »
Adding photo of hoops over raised strawberry beds.  The galvanized hardware cloth over steel hoops may lend some strength against smaller Px flyby debris.  Veiled in netting purchased at under $1 per yard, clipped on with steel binder clips, the beds have ample room to reach in and work. 

« Last Edit: July 05, 2017, 04:43:25 PM by R.R. Book »