I have a large cattle pen I use as the frame for a hoophouse. Up until now I’ve used it to overwinter potted figs, olives, and other plants that are higher zones but go dormant in pots.
it’s a pain to get in and out of it, I don’t have a real doorway or anything in winter. we get very high winds so it’s firmly closed and weighed down from November until April usually.
I usually cover it with greenhouse plastic sheets in October and start bringing things in, right before frost. in November I put a layer of bubble wrap inside and a second translucent tarp to insulate it from freezing. I use a few heat mats and in coldest times a tiny space heater to keep it at around 40F.
in summer I uncover it and clean it out and don’t even use it.
it’s all built of salvaged material, I have so far gotten it all for free but I am willing and able to buy some things this year if I can get up the nerve/get good ideas.
this year, maybe in the fall, I want to put the figs in ground inside it. I plan to use the whole thing for my figs and mmmmaybe the olives (if I feel I can trust them down to 40°). I have a few other plants that would do well in pots in there.
-is it enough protection for the figs in winter
-what do I do with the thing in summer?
-what kind of alternative or more permanent covering could I use? I was thinking of building off it with some 2x4s and maybe using that plastic glass stuff I’ve seen on greenhouses- will the wind bust it up if I do that? it would let me put hinges on to open it up easier in summer if so
-how on earth do I build a door into it so I’m more willing, less lazy about checking in and watering as necessary? I have to carry water in buckets from the house to do that and digging through snow and unweighing the tarps and climbing in makes me lazy
here’s the full wrap in winter with weighted stuff keeping it from becoming a kite
has anyone done this? I’m in zone 6b. I’d love to see other people’s hoophouse or stuff that’s salvaged material used for this!
You can buy pipe benders to make larger hoophouses, Johnny’s sells them.
You could frame a wood end wall for it and put a door in that. Olives are good well into the 20s F here. D
On Youtube there are absolutely over the top cattle panel green houses and there are also el cheapo very basic ones.
Here is probably one of my favorite…
They go up in in the fall and down in spring. consist of sliding glass doors and double pane windows.
As many variations as members!
Flexible Solexx with C clamps to attach to lengths of pipe. Stays put in high winds. Bottom of frame bolted to boards.
that solex- is it pretty shatter resistant? I love the way glass like other posts looks but I know branches in wind will get thrown into it part of the year
that is gorgeous the YouTube one!
I don’t think I have the ability to do a wooden wall- maybe I’ll try to do a door frame? it’s going to be difficult as is just trying to frame it out and cover it better
rolling them up in summer or being able to open all the sides would be good I think, I could keep the figs from burning that way.
I’ve been keeping the olives and figs in there in the high 30s each winter in pots but I want them in ground. I only intend to use it for those, unless I get rich enough to build a greenhouse that can be warm enough for tropicals.
it’s about 8’ tall and 14’ long which is a decent size for me. I think I’ll be keeping the plants pruned down to fit
I, too, much prefer the look of glass but don’t have the woodworking skill!
Recycled pipe, a pipe cutter, and metal fittings have become my workaround for framing. Solexx is corrugated plastic. It’s flexible and can be cut with shears. When it’s attached to pipe with C clamps, the structure becomes quite rigid. The corner connectors for 3/4" and 1" pipe can be bought online. If you happen upon 1 3/8" recycled pipe, you can use the larger T connectors sold at the big box stores intended for chain link fences.
To attach the door, I use chain link fence ‘hinge’ hardware from box store. Instead of Solexx, I use rigid corrugated ghouse sheets sold at my local ghouse store. These are also attached to pipe with C clamps.
After years of PVC structures that were always ready to fly off, this pipe method stays put!
I might do a wooden frame, with hinges so I can lift and prop out the sides of the structure in warm weather- the solex-or corrugated plastic, I could probably screw on and use as the window in the frames I bet. it doesn’t even need to be flexible for that!
update on this, last fall I was able to build a janky door and frame. I’m still going to have to find a new cover for it, I’ll be getting 6mm poly wall this year and trying to build a wooden frame connecting to the metal arches.
my rich friend bought me a planta greenhouse for the holidays, an extravagant gift! it’s a bit smaller than this hoophouse, but I’m debating where to put it and maybe if I should move this one or use it differently. I could better insulate the planta with less effort, for sure.
the problem as usual will be the summer heat. it’s still in the box, I’m thinking of doing a bed of sand and straw once I’ve got level ground to put it on
here’s the greenhouse she gave me, it came on a pallet with a red bow on it?! she’s wild
the hoophouse is 7x7x14’
here’s the indoors of it from this season, I’ve got a lot of starts, all my trees survived well. it’s a mess right now, hell it’s the mess season. I used heat mats and hot lights over winter for heating, I bring a small space heater with me to work in there every day and with the amount of insulation it was enough.
I have a mini version of that … a cattle panel frame with floating rowcover… heated with 300 incadescent Christmas lights… which i managed to grow leaf lettuce and spinach in all fall and winter (including low of 3F) long.
It is loaded with nice greens now.
When it is not too cold i just roll back the floating row cover for easy harvest.
Ps… this is the first time i managed to grow greens all winter. First time i tried the incadescent Christmas lights.
I’ll probably do some low row cover this winter for greens, I was thinking of putting a single heat mat inside and turning it on at night
Nifty setup. I assume you ran poly rather than remay when it was 3 deg!
It’s our first year with our new high tunnel- 32x48 covered with solawrap. We paid for a good chunk of it with an NRCS grant. We had one night at -19 degrees, and the high/low thermometer logged -4 that night at ~8” off the ground under the row cover. It’s amazing what a difference the row cover makes inside the high tunnel. We easily get a 5 or 6 degree advantage out of it. It moderates the humidity and light a bunch too. When we first put it on in late fall, we left it off one bed. It was all cole crops, hardy stuff, and didn’t seem to need it. That bed looked so miserable by mid-December or so, while the stuff under the row cover, including relatively tender stuff, looked great. Also interesting to observe/report, we logged 30 degrees (or less) on the thermometer with no observable signs of frost on plants in the high tunnel. We had tomatoes, cucumbers and summer squash all growing (though not producing any longer) after multiple events well below freezing. Not sure exactly what’s going kn there. Wondering if anyone else has had a similar experience. The thermometer is digital and appears accurate by all accounts.
@hobilus … on that 3F night and 2 or 3 other nights in that very cold spell… i had the row cover material on + a few old bed sheets and blankets.
I was somewhat suprised when i uncovered it and there was no harm at all.
Not bad. It looks like you have mostly lettuce in there. -4 killed everything (including various cole crops) in our high tunnel except lettuce and Sylvetta arugula.
This years will be disassembled in month.
I used greenhouse poly sheet on the outside like a tent- then several layers of bubble wrap saved from every package I’ve ever gotten on the inside, cardboard on the bottom half in layers for insulation.
inside view, as you can see it’s a lot of layers of bubble wrap, greenhouse plastic in two layers, I even used landscape fabric and cardboard in layers on the bottom few feet. it’s very snug in winter. i have to take it all apart next month after last frost though, it’ll be getting hot inside soon. it’s already in the 60s in there during the day, 50F outside means 65F inside. even without heat mats and lights
Here is a couple of links to my cattle panel greenhouse. Looking forward to using it as a season extender for my figs, They are getting a great start right now.
that looks great! passive heat does nothing here sadly. just not enough sunlight on December.