Every gardener yearns for a garden that offers high yields with an extended growing season. However, optimum sunlight, water, and healthy soil are not all the elements that the plants need. They also require ambient temperature for a fruitful, healthy, and fresh harvest. This is where a hoop house comes into the picture.
There are several benefits of owning a hoop house. It provides protection from wind, ice, snow, frost, and insects. It also reduces the risk of foliar diseases while offering your growing season extension. And all of these benefits result in healthier and higher yields.
In the next few sections, we shall be covering the many benefits to this gardening structure, as well as some considerations one might look into before having this in your garden, so please do read on!
Hoop house and it’s benefits
A hoop house, which can otherwise be known too as a polytunnel, is a gardening structure that protects plants from extreme weather variations and chances of being infected by pests and infections. It is a tunnel supported by steel and mainly sheathed by polyethylene in its sides to create a long tunnel form.
Hoop houses do not require any artificial lighting or temperature controls, making them quite easy to operate and affordable.
It is not surprising that hoop houses have garnered a lot of attention among gardeners and farmers recently. They have also become one of the most valuable tools for them. Here are the many benefits of a hoop house and how can make the most of it:
1) Season Extension is possible with a hoop house
One of the most common and amazing benefits of a hoop house is that it helps you extend the growing season by as much as 60 days. This helps frost-sensitive crops.
This means that you do not have to wait for the right season to plant your first seeds of the season. You can easily plant cold-tolerant plants somewhere in the middle of February.
This way, you can enjoy fresh veggies a month later into fall or even a month earlier in spring.
2) Protection Against Extreme Weather Conditions is possible with a hoop house
While the crops require an adequate amount of sunlight and water, excessive rain and scorching sun can harm them.
Since hoop house offers a controlled environment, it can protect your crops from extreme weather conditions and thus enhance their overall quality and yield.
Gardeners and farmers can easily grow high-value crops like dwarf fruit trees, grapes, and hops even while being outside of their preferred climate zones with a hoop house.
Tips for hoop houses in colder regions
If you live in a cooler area, you should consider getting a lower hoop house to offer better coverage to the crops from the cold.
Since some heat-tolerant crops may need a little extra shade in the summertime, a hoop house can come in quite handy as well.
You can easily replace the cover with shade cloth and even get sprinklers, add drip irrigation, or a couple of fans to keep the vegetables and herbs cool.
3) Hoop houses Allows For Crop Diversity
Every region has certain staple crops. These crops can be grown quite easily in that particular region. This is why gardeners are usually stuck with a set of veggies, herbs, and flowers that they can grow in their garden. Thus, gardeners are unable to experiment and grow a wider range of crops.
However, with a hoop house, this limitation can be relinquished to a certain level.
Varying crops that are out of season can be grown in hoop houses for extra income
With a controlled environment, you cannot only start growing early, but you can also try out growing different varieties of different crops!
Other than this, gardeners can also try growing early varieties and can even consider multiple crop rotations within the season. And farmers growing out-of-season crops can easily quote premium prices that can significantly impact their potential income.
4) Hoop houses Protect Landscaping During a Remodel
This one truly makes a hoop house an asset for every gardener. Remodeling and the heavy equipment pieces can ruin your much-cherished garden. But since hoop houses are quite portable, you can place them over plants or shrubs that need some extra protection.
Hoop houses are easy to assemble and dismantle; they are quite easy to relocate as well.
You can use it for plants that are weather susceptible. This will help them grow in an ideal environment, and you can remove the hoop house once you know that the crops are strong enough to survive on their own.
5) Hoop houses Increases Yields
Various studies have shown that plants are grown in a controlled environment provided by a hoop house grow healthier and more vigorously.
Yields in a hoop house can increase up to 4 times compared to the yield obtained in the field. This is because a structure like a hoop house offers better control on irrigation, fertilization, temperature, and atmospheric pressure.
This, in turn, prevents the leaves from getting wet, preventing pest infestations, weeds, and disease pathogens. This further enhances the quality and yield of the crops.
6) Faster Growth for plants can take place in Hoop houses
Other than extending the growing season, one can also benefit from faster growth of crops with the help of a hoop house.
Every crop has a different preferable soil and air temperature needed for seed germination and growth. Thus, growing them in a hoop house can offer the crops temperatures to accelerate their growth process significantly.
7) Hoop houses Reduces Need for Pesticides
As mentioned earlier, the risk of insect and mite pest infestation reduces considerably in hoop houses.
Hoop house offers a less hospitable environment for diseases, the need for pesticides and other chemicals is also removed.
To further reduce the risk of infestation, one can consider installing screening on the sides of the structure underneath the roll-up vent curtains. This will act as a barrier for large insects, birds, and even small mammals. Shade fabric can be used as the screening material.
8) Hoop houses Improves Soil Quality
Structures like hoop houses keep the ground cover so that the rainwater does not result in runoff. This ensures that the soil can retain its nutrients.
The deficiency of nutrients in the soil can cause root rot and stunted growth.
Thus, a hoop house also helps enhance the soil quality and ensures better growth of the plants.
9) Comfortable Working Conditions During Winters can be met inside Hoop houses
As mentioned earlier, hoop houses offer plants protection from extreme weather conditions. This also translates to a better and more comfortable work area for you. You can easily avoid harsh winds, heavy rain, hail, and snow while tending or harvesting your plants.
However, ventilation can be a challenge in structures like hoop houses.
For this, you can consider installing sides that you can roll up during warmer days to prevent the hoop house from overheating.
Similarly, you can consider putting portable heaters on colder days.
10) Hoop houses are Inexpensive
A hoop house is essentially an affordable greenhouse.
While a greenhouse consists of expensive glass and complex steelwork, the structure of a hoop house is quite simple and can be built easily.
Hoop house structure
The hoop house consists of a simple frame made of bent galvanized metal pipe or PVC pipe. One can even use wood. This is used to create the ‘ribs’ of the frame that fit into pipes with a slightly larger diameter.
These go around three feet into the ground, which gives it a solid foundation.
Now, all of this has to be bolted together along with purlins, end-framing, and doors to give it a complete hoop house look and feel. Other than this, a hoop house uses no artificial lighting or temperature controls, making it even more affordable and easy to operate.
Comparisons between hoop houses and green houses
Hoop houses or polytunnels and greenhouses have always been put side by side with each other for gardening considerations.
Hoop houses have lacked the aesthetic that greenhouses admittedly have, whilst greenhouses are often chosen to better manage ventilation for plants’ health. More about their comparisons, considerations spanning pricing, durability, labor costs, and all are covered in great detail in my recent article on polytunnels vs. greenhouses. It can be a beneficial guide for knowing which one is better for your garden, considering your location and budget.
11) Hoop houses Can be Used for a Hoop Coop
Simply by adding poultry netting to the frame of your hoop house, you can use the same structure to shelter a chicken coop or an aviary. Moving animals to the hoop house can protect them from cold spells and help brood them in the early months.
Hen manure has high nitrogen levels, which can be great for specific crops and improve the soil quality within the hoop house.
However, one should also consider not using it excessively as the soil can be too rich for certain crops. Other than a coop, it can also be used to produce flowers.
All you need is a shade cloth, and you will be able to grow orchids and various other flowers.
12) Hoop houses are Customizable
Whether you buy a hoop house or make one yourself, you can customize it based on your needs and requirements. So, if you live in a snow-heavy zone, you should focus more on a sturdy frame and ensuring that the plastic film can be removed easily once the season ends.
On the other hand, gardeners living in a tropical zone should consider getting doors placed at either end of the hoop house for better ventilation. It is also advised to get a UV-resistant plastic film to make the plastic sheet a lot more durable and long-lasting.
Various manufacturers offer different types of frames, end panel, and cover.
13) Hoop houses are Spacious
Usually, a hoop house is around 15 to 30 feet wide, 9 to 15 feet tall, and up around 200 feet in length. This means that a gardener or a farmer can easily grow a range of crops at a time in a hoop house.
The taller the hoop is, the taller the crops growing inside will be.
Moreover, the height of the hoop house also ensures better air circulation. However, the tunnel height along the sidewalls can be quite low. This can limit the crops that can be grown in that particular space. But if one wishes to use all the space, they can have straight sidewalls, which will help in increasing the vertical growing space along the outer walls.
Things to Keep in Mind when having a hoop house
Now that you are well-acquainted with the various benefits of owning a hoop housekeeping certain things in mind while buying or building a hoop house is important.
Hoop house size
Firstly, it is vital to decide on the size of the hoop house. This will give your plants enough space to grow while also ensuring that the gardener or farmer can work comfortably.
Soil that is enclosed within the hoop house
Next, you need to pick a site with level ground and healthy soil. Be sure that the area offers good drainage and also has an all-season water source.
How to build a kit style hoop house
In the video below Tony O’Neill show you how to build a kit from a hoop house in a step-by-step video. He shows exactly how to prepare the area as well as the complete set-up. This will show you the work involved in building a hoop house at home.
Positioning and location of the hoop house
Other than this, the area should get adequate sunlight during the winter season but does not overheat during summers. Also, be aware of the wind currents and ventilation to pick the best position for your hoop house.
However, it is important to be mindful of the potential of high winds that can prove to be destructive for the structure.
Conclusion on owning a hoop house
Hoop houses offer a bunch of benefits, making them an essential tool for farmers and gardeners. If you lack the budget and resources to do the more expensive greenhouse option, this is the best way to grow plants all year round with less cost.
If set up properly and well-taken care of, these can turn out to be one of the best gardening solutions that can ensure crop variety and yield that can last a rather long time.
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