Saturday, April 29, 2017

How to build a Hoop House & Cold Protection for Pumpkin Plants

Yesterday I completed the hoop houses for the patch.  Similar setup for them that I've used in the past, although every year I get a little better at it.  Joe Jutras might not find my work up to par, but they are good enough.

I start with a simple frame using redwood 2x4s using stainless steel screws to put it together  On the corners I add braces using leftover pieces from the frame.  

I then drill holes for the pipe on the sides and a hole in the center of the hoop house door area.  I then put 1/2" pvc pipe through the holes that I then put end caps on.   I put a vertical pipe through the center of the door area that has a 90 degree connector at the top (not pictured).  Into the other end of the connector I run a horizontal "cross bar" under the hoops that gives them some support at the top of the hoop house.   I then use a zip tie to connect each hoop to the cross bar. All of this makes for a pretty sturdy frame for the plastic cover.

Next, I use clear 6 mil plastic to runs across the hoops.   The plastic is then stapled to the wood frame.   Using the same 6 mil plastic I put "doors" on each end that are stapled to the frame and using plastic clamps I clip the door to the outside hoops.

I've had hoop houses like these in snow, heavy wind and rain.  A 100 watt incandesent bulb, heat lamp or space heater inside the hoops at night will keep the plants warm (and not let them freeze).  The plastic gives no cold protection at night, but if the doors are closed, they heat up very quickly when the sun is out, so you have to monitor temperatures.

This morning I plug in the soil heating cables for the first time.  I had some clear plastic over the planting areas.  There was some ice on the plastic.   Just now I checked the temperature 8 inches into the ground.  The one hoop house soil was at a very nice 73.4 degrees and the other was at 66.7 degrees.   By Wednesday, when I plan on putting the plants in the ground, the soil temperature should be perfect for them.  You don't want to put your plants into a cold ground.  

The plants are vining right now and I'm very anxious to get them into the ground.

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