Tony O’Neill, gardener and author of the popular “Composting Masterclass” and “Your First Vegetable Garden,” combines lifelong passion and expert knowledge to simplify the art of gardening. His mission? Helping you cultivate a thriving garden. More on Tony O’Neill
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 plants need. They also require ambient temperature for a fruitful, healthy, 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 extending your growing season. And all of these benefits result in healthier and higher yields.
In the next few sections, we shall cover the many benefits of this gardening structure and some considerations one might consider before having this in your garden, so please read on!
Hoop House and its benefits
A hoop house, which can otherwise be known 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 on its sides to create a long tunnel form.
Hoop houses do not require artificial lighting or temperature controls, making them quite easy to operate and affordable.
Unsurprisingly, hoop houses have recently garnered much attention among gardeners and farmers. They have also become one of the most valuable tools for them. Here are the many benefits of a hoop house and how you 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.
It would be best not to wait for the right season to plant your first seeds. You can easily grow cold-tolerant plants somewhere in the middle of February.
This way, you can enjoy fresh veggies a month later in the fall or even a month earlier in spring.
2) Protection Against Extreme Weather Conditions is possible with a hoop house
While the crops require adequate sunlight and water, excessive rain and scorching sun can harm them.
Since hoop house offers a controlled environment, they can protect your crops from extreme weather conditions and thus enhance their overall quality and yield.
Gardeners and farmers can quickly grow high-value crops like dwarf fruit trees, grapes, and hops even outside 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 crop coverage from the cold.
Since some heat-tolerant crops may need extra shade in the summertime, a hoop house can also be useful.
You can easily replace the cover with shade cloth and 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 quickly in that particular region. This is why gardeners are usually stuck with a set of vegetables, herbs, and flowers they can grow in their garden. Thus, gardeners cannot experiment and develop a wider range of crops.
However, this limitation can be relinquished to a certain level with a hoop house.
Varying crops 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!
Gardeners can also try growing early varieties and 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 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 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 grown in a controlled environment provided by a hoop house grow healthier and more vigorously.
A hoop house’s yield 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 of 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 for seed germination and growth. Thus, growing them in a hoop house can increase crop temperatures and accelerate their growth.
7) Hoop houses Reduce the Need for Pesticides
As mentioned earlier, hoop houses considerably reduce the risk of insect and mite pest infestation.
Hoop house offers a less hospitable environment for diseases, and 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 be a barrier for giant 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 cover the ground so the rainwater does not result in runoff. This ensures that the soil can retain its nutrients.
The soil’s deficiency in nutrients 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 Winter 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
While a greenhouse consists of expensive glass and complex steelwork, the structure of a hoop house is quite simple and can be built quickly.
Hoop house structure
The hoop house comprises a simple frame of bent galvanized metal or PVC pipe. One can even use wood. This is used to create the ‘ribs’ of the structure that fit into lines with a slightly larger diameter.
These go around three feet into the ground, which gives it a solid foundation.
This has to be bolted with purlins, end-framing, and doors to give it a complete hoop house look and feel. Besides 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 greenhouses
Hoop houses, polytunnels, and greenhouses have always been put side by side for gardening considerations.
Hoop houses have lacked the aesthetic that greenhouses admittedly have, while greenhouses are often chosen to better manage ventilation for plants’ health. More about their comparisons and considerations spanning pricing, durability, and labor costs, and all are covered in great detail in my recent article on polytunnels vs. greenhouses.
It can be a helpful guide for knowing which is better for your garden, considering your location and budget.
11) Hoop houses Can be Used for a Hoop Coop
Simply 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 specific crops. Other than a coop, it can also be used to produce flowers.
You only need a shade cloth to grow orchids and 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 ensure 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. A UV-resistant plastic film is also advised to make the plastic sheet more durable and long-lasting.
Various manufacturers offer different types of frames, end panels, and covers.
13) Hoop houses are Spacious
Usually, a hoop house is around 15 to 30 feet wide, 9 to 15 feet tall, and up to about 200 feet in length. This means that a gardener or a farmer can quickly grow a range of crops in a hoop house.
The taller the hoop, the taller the crops grow inside.
Moreover, the height of the hoop house also ensures better air circulation. However, the tunnel height along the sidewalls can be pretty 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 increase 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, deciding on the hoop house’s size is vital. This will give your plants enough space to grow while ensuring the gardener or farmer can work comfortably.
Soil that is enclosed within the hoop house
Next, pick a site with level ground and healthy soil. Be sure the area offers good drainage and an all-season water source.
How to build a kit-style hoop house
In the video below, I will show you how to build a kit from a hoop house in a step-by-step video. He shows precisely how to prepare the area and 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
Besides this, the area should get adequate sunlight during the winter but not overheat during summer. 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 to destroy the structure.
Conclusion on owning a Hoop House
Hoop houses offer many 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 correctly and well-taken care of, these can be one of the best gardening solutions to ensure crop variety and yield that can last a long time.
If you liked this article, subscribe to the form below to be notified about future content and releases!