Sunday, September 23, 2012

Mini High Tunnel Hoophouse Project

If it weren't for the damn mosquitoes everything would be perfect to be working on outside projects. They aren't going to stop me however. I'm the perfect candidate for West Nile. While I make cold frames from the same concept each winter I thought I would expand up on the idea after seeing a youtube video on how to raise the hoop concept so that you can get inside of it. The only additional materials I needed to get to the end of the project today was rebar.

Step 1:
This is the site of a former raised bed. I had to enclosed the garden with chicken wire to keep the chickens out since this is being installed in the Orchard, aka Chicken Yard, and because I am not going to enclose this in plastic until the nights get near freezing.  Hoe, weed a bit, remove large sticks and created a very narrow path down the middle.

Step 2:
Placed narrow (6 inch) strip of cardboard down to mark the path. I'll be lucky if I don't fall on my arse with this path. Notice it doesn't go all the way to the end of the bed to maximize planting space. This is a very small hoop house and I'm planting intensively. 

Step 3:
I harvested 2, 5 gallon buckets of compost from the floor of the chicken coop and spread around the planting space. This is all the soil amendment I am adding since the soil was in good organic condition already. 

Step 4:
I hammered in 10, 4 ft pieces of rebar about half way into the ground. These will support the conduit hoops. The rebar cost just under $3 a piece and has been my only cost since I had the other items around. 
Next I bent the conduit and stuck it over the rebar on both sides of the bed. 

Some people have a centered length of conduit connecting all of the hoops, but my bed is longer than the length of the conduit and the hoops seem strong enough to not collapse (famous last words?).

Step 5:
Plant! I planted mache, 3 varieties of kale, spinach, arugula and several lettuces and marked their perimeter with sticks. 

How do I get in there to eat that yummy seed?

What I have left to do is cover the high tunnel in plastic and create an entryway. I haven't decided if I want a door or a zipper. I saw that you can buy a tarp zipper and attach it to plastic to act as a door way w/o needing to build a door. I'll probably build a door though. It will go on the east end to limit cold NW winds from entering. I will cover it when it gets colder. Right now I need it to rain on these seeds so I don't have to water in the meantime. 

Dimensions: 11 feet long and 4.5 ft wide. 

It's an experiment. If it works I may even try erecting a propagation bench inside where I can start some seeds next spring. We shall see. I'm kind of excited to have an almost greenhouse. 

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