The Milkweed Diaries

Friday, March 13, 2009

Hoop(house) Dreams

Well, our hoophouse was was finally finished Sunday night and is now ready to house our thousands (!!) of spring starts.  

The photos above are from several weeks ago, when C. began work on building the east and west walls, wearing his stylish insulated onesie.  As the snow was coming down, it was great to imagine the warm little cocoon that the hoophouse would provide for greens through the winter months and seedlings in the spring. We'll also grow tomatoes in there this summer, rolling the sides up as it gets hotter, with the plastic above protecting the plants from rain to prevent blight.  

The hoophouse is 40 feet long by 16 feet wide.  We built its side walls with sustainably-harvested lumber -- 2 x 4's from the Warren Wilson College sawmill just across the river from us -- and salvaged plywood from several years of construction-site dumpster diving and various other salvage endeavors.  The hoops and plastic we got super-cheap from friends who had to quit farming several year ago.  Back in 2007, we had a hoophouse raising on my birthday, and friends and family helped us put up the main body of the structure.  With a free salvaged door and a soon-to-be-purchased exhaust fan, the hoophouse will be grow-ready for about $500 total.

As the hoophouse walls went up, we participated in a time-honored February tradition among gardeners: dreaming of luscious summer vegetables while slogging through cold, wet weather waiting, waiting, waiting for Spring.    Now that our first greenhouse is finally ready, we'll fill it up with flats full of seeds next week and commence to growing. After seed-starting season is over, we'll build raised beds inside that will be used for tomatoes in the summer and greens and brassicas over the winter.  

Here's to the hoops!


Anonymous said...

Hey yall. Nice job on the affordable hoop house! I want to come over this spring and talk about some specific stuff- like more details on the rainwater system you have. And I want to freeze some nettles in your freezer. I am so busy for the rest of the month. Can we think about an early to mid April date? Dana

el said...

How exciting!

Do you think you'll need the fan? We get by with roll-up sides and openings above the doors. Granted, I am not in NC though...anyway, with shade cloth and roll-up sides you might be able to "go passive" with the whole dealio. I would bet reflective shade cloth (held down by grommets, it covers maybe 2/3rds of the roof) would still be cheaper than a fan. Just my 2c!

Spring's really sprung in our greenhouses, it's so exciting.