At Growing Power we learned how to build a hoop house. In fact we actually helped to actually build it. Armed with that experience we decided it was time to build our own hoop house. Our hoop house is similar to the one we built at GrowingPower, but quite a bit taller. The dimensions are 20′ wide by 50′ long.
We decided to use a materials list pretty similar to the one used at GrowingPower. The side walls are constructed of 1 5/8″ chain link line posts, and the hoops are 1 3/8″ chain link tubes. The sides will be screen, and the covering will be shade cloth in the summer and plastic in the winter.
The advantage of using chain link materials is that they are inexpensive, easy to acquire, and easy to work with. On the other hand, I wish the posts and hoops were a little more rigid. I hope to compensate with extra purlins (long braces run the length of the hoop house, tying the hoops together lengthwise), diagonal braces, and strong end walls. Side wall posts are placed at 5′ intervals. Because of our location we get some pretty strong sustained winds for much of the year. If we were building a larger greenhouse I would not consider using these materials – I would opt for much more rigid materials. However I think they’ll work – we shall see.
The Bending Jig
We built our own bending jig to bend the hoops. This jig was exactly like the one that was demonstrated at GrowingPower. It’s built by drawing an arc on a sheet of plywood, and then attaching blocks of wood on the line of the arc, and finally attaching two sheets of lath to the edge of the blocks to create a smooth curved surface on which to bend the hoops. The radius of the jig is slightly smaller than the actual radius of the hoops. This particular jig bends the pipes just right for a 20′ wide structure.
Bending the Hoops
This is the most fun part of construction so far. The hoops are 31.5′ long, so they’re made by joining one and one-half 1-3/8″ pipe together. The pipes are screwed together to keep them from separating. Insert one end of the pipe into the jig, and everyone pushes! Then work it into the jig a few more feet and push again, bending the whole pipe down its length, little by little. We had to be careful at the joint of the two pipes, because too much pressure would cause the joint to kink instead of to bend, which you definitely don’t want. Everybody had fun bending the hoops, even the kids.
Side Wall Base
We decided to use 2×10 lumber for the base of the side walls. This will provide a frame for the floor and will give us something to attach the screen for the side walls.
We had a great crew – the whole family showed up! Our crew is full of youthful energy.
The next big task is to prepare the floor. I’ve ordered a load of road base, which will go over a big sheet of weed block fabric. Under that is sand, which I still have to fill and level.