Things to Consider Before Starting Your Hoop House Build
At Bootstrap Farmer we field a lot of calls from people looking to build their first hoop house. We get questions from every possible type of person. Often this is the biggest construction project that folks have taken on, so there are naturally many questions. People are terrified to make a mistake. Given the job hoop houses have of protecting valuable crops as well as a significant up front investment, we certainly understand how important it is to build it right the first time.
Even though we have kits with specific instructions, we want to tell you that every hoop house we have ever seen constructed has been different from last. Farmers add on, adjust, and customize to fit their many different needs, especially once they gain experience and adjust to their particular needs.
Over time, farmers view hoop house construction as a framework instead of an exact step-by-step to follow. Our intent with the following guides is to help get you there right from the start.
What Exactly is a Hoop House?
Hoop houses are simple structures. In its simplest form, they are hoops with plastic on top to protect plants from excessive wind and rain. They provide solar gains at the start and end of the growing seasons to allow farmers to begin growing earlier in the Spring and harvesting later into the Fall. With proper crop selections and succession planting, many climates can also support four season farming.
A hoop house can be built from many materials. Different gauges of metal, wood and PVC(not recommended) are the most popular choices. Each farmer is able to decide if they want to save capital investments upfront or invest into a stronger structure at the start that will last for seasons to come. Local weather and environmental conditions ultimately should be the deciding factor to hoop house construction. In this series we will answer many of the questions we routinely receive at Bootstrap Farmer regarding hoop house construction.
What Growing Structure is Best for My Farm?
Do I need a hoop house? A greenhouse? A caterpillar tunnel? Are they the same thing? Agricultural terms seem only to separate farm goods from the public. As farmers, we often can’t agree either. For example; What exactly do organic, local, and sustainable all really mean? Well, it can vary from state to state. Some pockets of soil growers view hydroponic as unnatural. Organic growers may be allowed to spray some chemicals that turn other label laden growers into soap box evangelists at the drop of a hat. Some folks claim a caterpillar tunnel is a greenhouse. We should take steps to clearly define and correctly use industry terms. It all adds up if small ag is going to ride the transparency train into professional credibility to the buying public. In the next post of this series we will go over the differences between hoop houses, greenhouses and caterpillar tunnels. Our hope is that by starting off with some standard definitions can help us to get on the same page as we talk about the pros and cons of each type of growing structure.