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Giant high tunnel hoop house - took the plunge

9 years ago

So after a season's worth of fighting septoria I've decided that for all my efforts I want more control of the environment, and less rain on the leaves!! I took the plunge and bought a 14x36x10' high tunnel hoop house .. In the process of constructing now, and I can't wait for next season! Lol nothing like rushing through life..

I purchased it from Farmtek( GrowersSupply) and I will say that I'm impressed with the quality of the materials supplied - although for $3k I guess I should be huh? The instructions leave a little to be desired though..

Bye bye rain related issues!! =D

Comments (44)

  • 9 years ago

    Another view

  • 9 years ago

    One more

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    For kicks this year I put a late planting of what were advertized as storage tomatoes into the hoop house. They are supposed to be able to be picked green, stored in the cellar and ripen in a month or so, then keep for another month or better. I'll push the plants as far into the winter as they will go, but I'm not going to waste heat on them. I'm also going to start some Beaverlodge tomatoes, which are always weeks ahead for ripening in the spring, and do them in containers with bottom heat as early as I can come spring. Quality probably won't be the best for either, but I just want to see If I can actually pull off "fresh" tomatoes year round in Z6. Might be fun. I'm finding my late fall hoophouse tomatoes to have poor texture, but the Black krims are still holding good flavor. I'm picking them when they first blush color and letting them ripen in our much warmer kitchen. When real cold gets here, I migh try ripening them next to the wood stove, just to see if more heat helps.
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    I went and looked at it and I decided to buy it pretty much on the spot. It is in great shape. All the baseboards are in good condition, the endwalls are in good shape and come with it. The only issue I have is I will have to cut the posts off at the concrete, but I knew that coming into it. I am planning on either buying new ground posts or come up with another way to secure it to the ground. It has been sitting up on a rock base with drainage away. The owner use to raise flowers for sale in the spring. Now all I have to do is move it. it doesn't look to be too hard of a job. All the posts slip together, but we will see after we start on the first one! The vent covers don't come with it. I am excited! Jay
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  • 9 years ago

    beauty, but wow on the $$. It is an investment.
    Does it stand year around and your could grow things for quite an extended time or it goes away for the winter

  • 9 years ago

    You'll enjoy at least another month of extended harvest and better quality produce. I would add 2 extra perlins from what was previously reported about colapse of this brand structure. Agree that the price is high for that size structure but possibly other materials included?

  • 9 years ago

    Agree with the extra purlin recommendation or at least some extra cross-bracing and also recommend at least a 4 corner tie down. Is it situated into or across wind?

    Check into some of the bracing recommendations over on the Greenhouses forum.


  • 9 years ago

    Hey Linda,
    Yes it'll stand year round but will only be actively used from April to possibly early October .. It's more so for a head start, and protection from the elements ..

    @bmoser- a little pricey yes, $2600 + tax but it came with everything.. Sun master film, "twist of the wrist" roll up sides etc.. 4 year warranty.. I didn't hear of the previous collapse! Could you give me a link? Much appreciated

    Dave: it's located slightly NE (30degrees) and slightly SW(210 degrees) front to back, as that's all the yard would allow.. It'll get around 8+ hours of sun..
    Definitely will look into some extra purlins.. It does have ground posts about 2' deep every 4'...

  • 9 years ago


    Are you talking about this post (link on bottom)? Luckily mine has a much steeper pitch only being 14' wide.. I'm also going to passively heat in the winter with 50 gallon drums filled with water .. Worse comes to worst it only takes a few minutes to brush it off ..
    I have a couple extra lengths of purlins that I'll use to brace the more susceptible sections ..

    Here is a link that might be useful: Hoop house collapse

    This post was edited by michael723 on Sun, Aug 17, 14 at 19:11

  • 9 years ago

    A little update.. As of yesterday she's finally complete! A little touch and go with stretching the film but I think it will suffice.. It was hard covering this baby with only myself and one other man, but we got it done.. My only concern is the "anchoring system." The manufacturer claims that the ground posts (driven down around 2') are sufficient anchoring.. I beg to differ as they could be pulled up if I desired to do so.. Should I look into alternative anchoring? Thoughts from the experienced greatly appreciated.. I'm also wondering if I could get away without powered ventilation here in the northeast (CT) with the sides and doors up..

  • 9 years ago

    Side view - excess film not yet cut in this pic

  • 9 years ago

    Michael, that is a great looking high tunnel and I bet you can't wait to get started using it! So much room to fill up!

    As Dave mentioned, you will probably get more responses to your questions over at the GardenWeb greenhouse forum where many more under cover growing experts hang out.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Greenhouses and garden structures

  • 9 years ago


    Thanks!! Yea can't wait for sure lol.. Thanks for the recommendation on forums, makes more sense.. I just liked sticking around here because I know more folks but the post really doesn't belong here .. Take care!

  • 9 years ago

    BEAUTIFUL ! Good luck !

  • 9 years ago

    I really like that you can open both sides and create great air flow, seems to me like great way to go to protect plants from septoria outbreak and ènot haveè it in greenhouse! Will be waiting for update!

  • 9 years ago

    Yea I love having a roof!!! So weird ! LoL.. I'm hoping that I'll be able to get away without the need for any powered fans.. It gets hot VERY quickly when everything is closed up lol.. I have to give it a test on a rainy day to see what the temps look like ..

    What stinks is that the soil underneath it was a section of grass that I didn't care for much.. Very sandy and lacking organic matter .. I'll have to get a yard or so of compost and give it a kick-start.. So far I've just given it peat moss, tomatotone (that I had laying around), some ewc's and a deep watering .. I'm gonna brew some tea once my current batch of compost is done ..

    Trying to move quickly because I need to plant my hairy vetch like yesterday lol... That should really help to improve the soil's texture and CEC in the spring when I chop it.. Never did a cover crop before so it should be fun!

  • 9 years ago

    Thanks Slimy_Okra, that was just the info I was looking for! Yea I'm only using about 200 of the approximately 500sq/ft of space.. Keeping a good 3 ft from the sides as well.. How do you go about anchoring the 50x20's?

  • 9 years ago

    4' deep ground posts - and I had to hire help to get them all pounded in. It's a lot of work!
    Are you using the 3' on each side as pathways?

  • 9 years ago

    Michael, I had a very small hoop house, so allow me to share with you what I learned from that.

    > I'm hoping that I'll be able to get away without the need for any powered fans..

    I think you WILL need fans, and BIG ones. It is for the temperature, but also for the humidity.

    FarmTek sells some nice fans.

  • 9 years ago

    In order to get good crop you will need to CAREFULLY prepare the soil. People more knowledgeable than me will explain you how to do that.

    Hairy vetch is a very good crop cover.

    Because the hairy vetch can easily grow 6-8+ ft. high, I suggest you to use this trellis netting. Use these stakes to secure the trellis in the ground. if you donâÂÂt use any kind of support for this climber, the plants will lay on the ground and you will get much less green manure.

    In the picture bellow, I grow hairy vetch in 32 gl.totes. I also grow in the ground, where the plant grow bigger and healthier.

  • 9 years ago

    If you donâÂÂt want to use the trellis, plant also winter rye.

    > A mixture of hairy vetch plus rye can produce a lot of biomass that can enhance soil quality while providing a significant amount of nitrogen to a subsequent crop.

    The winter rye will ALSO serve as support for the hairy vetch.

    Keep in mind that the winter rye only grows about 4 ft. high - so, much shorter than hairy vetch - but still, itâÂÂs a good support. Obviously, even if you use the trellis to support the hairy vetch, you STILL can plant the winter rye. Actually, that would be the IDEAL situation.

    In your case I suggest you to keep a 3 ft. path in the middle for circulation, and plant the hairy vetch PERPENDICULAR on hoopâÂÂs axis. If you plant it PARALLEL, it will be difficult to water manually the plants when the hairy vetch will grow over 4 ft. high. Ideal would be to make a cheap watering system from the top. Use a timer. For few bucks the automatic watering will spare a lot - trust me - A LOT of your time. Plant the hairy vetch 2 ft. between the rows. Do not overseed. Less is better. Follow seed bag's label instructions.

    JohnnyâÂÂs sells both hairy vetch and winter rye seeds.

    Both hairy vetch and winter rye seeds need an inoculant âÂÂto be sure that root nodules are formed and nitrogen fixation takes place.âÂÂ

    Innoculation is simply: âÂÂcoating the seeds with a small amount of a special powdery bacteria that enables the plants to draw nitrogen from the air and deposit it in their roots."

    Here is a description of the inoculation procedure.

    Make sure you cut the hairy vetch BEFORE flowering and the winter rye BEFORE making the grains. Usually it happens simultaneous. If you let the plants longer, they will grow a little bit more, but will also start wilting from the bottom, which is not good. Also grains could germinate in the ground, when you tile the soil, which again, is not good. Before cutting the winter rye, I removed manually the top of the plant, where are the grains.

    I planted both plants last year and I was very happy with the results. For sure, after the tomato season finishes, i will plant AGAIN both plants.

    Bellow you can see the hairy vetch + winter rye combo in my garden.

    This post was edited by Daniel_NY on Wed, Sep 3, 14 at 9:25

  • 9 years ago

    @ Slimy_Okra
    Yes the 3' sides will be my paths as well as the 22" between the rows .. You could see the three rows in this pic (low cut grass between the stakes and strings)..

    Daniel - thanks a bunch for all your suggestions and info on the vetch!.. I'm fairly well seasoned in terms of soil prep (about 15-20 years of experience), and will be inoculating with the correct organisms for vetch as well as some mycorrhizal fungus for good measure...
    I plan on using some left over cattle panels for support, but I'm worried that the one lb of vetch seed I purchased won't be nearly enough for the 200 or so sq/ft.

    In terms of watering I stay away from anything overhead and will be extending my chlorine filtered (90% chlorine free) drip system from the original garden into the hoop house. The system is on an automatic timer so I just "set it and forget it." LoL One of these days I'll get an injection system so I could just feed my compost tea through the drip system ..

    I'm assuming the cover crops supplied you with most (85% from what I read) of the N needed but did you use a general fert for the added P, K and micronutes?

  • 9 years ago

    Michael, is this set up allowing you to keep long sides raised as well? So cool!!!!
    Tania was mentioning that similar set up allows her to offset all airborn load well into Oct while open air ones got hit in the beg of August in her area...
    Am going this year with mustard and daikon radish for cover crop. Tried last year winter mix but since I can not start anything earlier than Nov 1 it was too short of the time for any decent growth. Especially looking forward to daikon radish and plant some in my perennial garden where dogs have compacted it from constant running. Biodrilling on the cheap seems attractive! LOL

  • 9 years ago

    Michael, which will be the planting rows and which the walking paths ?

  • 9 years ago

    Yea I'm loving it, very nice set up.. I cant wait to actually grow something in it!!! lol . . I have to pick up some alfalfa meal today and then I plan on seeding the vetch hopefully tomorrow... Never grew radish myself and don't know much about daikon.. Is it a food crop as well?

    You could see my boxer Petey in the pic, he just loves to walk under the hoophouse.. I've been chasing him outta there and he's finally getting the message lol.. Just got a new beagle puppy as well and he has a fondness for stealing tomatoes out of the garden and eatting them under the hoophouse lol ...

    @Daniel - The dead grass between the stakes will be the rows.. You can also see some of the red/brown "rubber" tiles that will make up one of the walking paths

  • 9 years ago

    Cute puppies! Mine are shelties and they are ever watchful so garden needs to be safe LOL and thus soil gets compacted...
    Daikon radish uses vary, from forage food to biodrilling the soil to medical use. Mustard is used for biofumigation. Both of them can be used for cover crops, as I need something that grows fast and tolerates some cold it could be a winner. We will see.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Daikon radish

  • 9 years ago

    So Michael, the walking paths will be on both sides of the two green grass rows ?

    This post was edited by Daniel_NY on Thu, Sep 4, 14 at 12:06

  • 9 years ago

    Hey Dan,
    No, the green grass and the "burnt" grass along the perimeter will be the walking paths..

    Sounds interesting! I think you just struck a chord with the biofumigation - I like the idea! Which variety will you be planting? The link below has a nice explanation of the three varieties and their different uses..
    I'm amazed at all the uses of the daikon radish!! One heck of a super food that's loaded with benefits.. Definitely something I'm going to look in to! Thanks

    Here is a link that might be useful: Mighty Mustard

    This post was edited by michael723 on Thu, Sep 4, 14 at 22:16

  • 9 years ago

    Michael, I would do the walking paths on both sides of the two green grass rows. I would have more planting space; an entire row. 4 rows of planting vs. 3.

  • 9 years ago

    Yea I hear ya but I don't like my tomatoes to be too congested .. I like at least 3-4' between rows and plants .. Especially in the hoop house.. I'll be fighting leaf mold and other issues if I jam them too tight.. I'd rather have fewer airy and healthy plants than more crammed and struggling to survive, ya know? Not to mention, they usually hit around 7'+ so if I put rows along the perimeter they'd be hitting the film which would also promote mold etc.. There's nothing worse than a jungle of a garden.. I say that from experience lol ..

    I'm also planning on hanging some planters along the perimeter with some perennials to draw in the pollinators so I need ample space.. Appreciate the advice though..

  • 9 years ago

    sheesh, I am a crammer and then always regret it LOL Cutting down for next year number of plants... says me right before I hit Tania website and Tormato seed swap...
    Am using Kodiak because my main interest is in biomass and locally avail mustard in bulk from India spices, thankfully stores here are loaded with ethnic foods.

  • 9 years ago

    Haha I too was a crammer until I could no longer get down my paths and was barely able to harvest for a few years lol.. Harder to maintain and tie up lateral shoots and then ya just end up with a sprawling mess..

    Also, if you're looking for some biological approaches to pests try amending with neem meal.. I have been thinking about it for a year or so but have just been to lazy to go through with ordering. One night while laying in bed I'll just buy some I'm sure lol.. When that time comes I'll give you a review! Good luck!

    Hey how's the tea experiment coming? I'm about to brew a batch myself once this compost finishes (says the guy who can't restrain from continuously adding to it). lol

  • 9 years ago

    Why don't you do a 4ft wide bed in the middle, even if you don't plant side by side you can go on diagonal and get 2 rows of plants in, or as I'm thinking next year, plant 1 row of tomatoes down the middle of the 4ft bed? You can still reach from either side. I hate to see 8 out of the 14ft used for pathways. I'd love it if my tunnel had higher sides - I'm trying to keep lower-growing plants there but I have raised beds so some might hit the plastic but I don't plan on the plastic being down for very long - maybe 30 nights in fall that they might touch. Spring won't be a problem.

    But with the raised bed, my tomatoes are already over the hoops, I'll have to top them when we put the plastic on later this month.

  • 9 years ago

    I hear what you're saying but with three rows I could get more plants than with one double row.. At 3' spaced on center I could get 12 plants in each row for a total of 36.. Do you mean two 4 ft rows? But I'm gonna do a foot wide perennial bed (hellllo bees lol) along the entire length of the sides so I'll probably use another 2-3' up..

  • 9 years ago

    No, I was still thinking 3 beds, but a 3-4ft (preferably 4) wide bed in the center, 2ft wide aisles either side (or 1.5ft if you can), 2ft wide beds on outside of those, and then 1-1.5ft aisles on the outside edges if you REALLY want to not plant along the edges. It's not like you really need to walk along the edges inside, right, with only 2ft wide beds and a 1.5-2ft wide aisle on the other side of each? If you are doing 1ft wide perennial beds then yes you will need to put an aisle between them and the annual vegetable beds next to them, and keep the perennials low-growing/pruned to take advantage of the roll-up sides for ventilation. But I'd try to keep the non-vegetable sections as small as possible to maximize production.

    Or may I humbly suggest something like my setup with 3 beds and 2 aisles, plant low-growing plants (though you have more height than I do) in the outside beds? That would maximize the growing space, though I didn't run the center bed all the way to the ends, and the outside beds stop short of the north end though they do run to the south end.

    Yours will be neater since you won't have the mounded bed in the middle eroding like mine is. Mine is 14ft wide but (pretty much) semicircular hoops, the ground posts only stick up 1ft. The center bed started off at 4ft wide, the side beds are 2ft wide plus the diameter of the ground posts (1.5" or so) since they are built to the inside of the posts.

  • 9 years ago

    One of growers who does permaculture, does 2 ft strips and plants cover crop like clover in another 2 ft.Then next year change it. Not in greenhouse setting though. I am considering this idea for my set up, very attractive to me.
    Compost tea experiment goes great so far. Nothing was done to the garden since August except ACT and it is controlling everything well, though septoria still present but plants are producing well. Peppers doubled in size for last month... I am still figuring out exact brewing concoctions, mostly what microbial food to add as I managed to burn leaves couple times.

  • 9 years ago

    Michael, when I saw this hoop house, I remembered you.

    As you can see, the guy has rows on the sides, as I suggested you.

  • 9 years ago

    Micheal, how's the hoop house going ? A few recent pictures...

    Sheesh, I want a hoop house. Unfortunately, no space.

  • 9 years ago

    Michael - I've got to get screws, level the hoops out and secure to the ground posts - how are yours attached? Any tips for getting the plastic on (I got plastic and wiggle wire delivered this week) with only 2 people (and not driving a truck through the inside LOL)?

  • 9 years ago

    My ground posts were pre-drilled (two holes) and I simply lined up the holes with the frame tubing, slid bolts through with nuts on the inside ..

    If I could give you any tips in regards to the film I'd say the most important part is to get it completely centered over the frame (both length and width wise). It may not be as important for you but for me with the roll up sides (not sure if you have them) it became a real pain in the butt because I had to cut a perfectly straight line along the length of the structure in order to roll up the sides evenly..

    Forgot this: before we started I doubled up the fabric along the long edge, cut holes and tied ropes to it - 3 evenly spaced.. We then threw the ropes over the frame and pulled from the other side.. Just be careful when you're pulling not to snag the film on a clamp or screw of any sort.. It helped to have my buddy pull one side, tie it off and then the other side - as I was inside with a ladder helping it over the clamps etc..

    Also be certain that your happy with the position and tightness of the film before installing the channel spring (wiggle wire) as it makes indents and a few little holes in the film.. I tightened the film length wise first; installed the springs above the doors. You can work the spring in from either the ground up or you can start at the center peak and work downward in each direction..
    I personally liked working from the center and then down.. Be sure to pull the film taunt in the direction that you are working as to keep ridges or wrinkles from forming. Once you are satisfied with the tightness lengthwise proceed with tightening the film width wise.. Start from one end and work the spring in all the way down and then proceed to the other ..

    I will say this.. When all was said I done I had to take a few springs out from above the door sides to pull out some bumps and loose spots that it didn't like .. So you can always make adjustments.. And above all - GOOD LUCK!

    Ps: my friends call me Mike =)

  • 9 years ago

    Also, here's a link to the instructions for my tunnel.. On page 13 you'll see the directions for installing the cover.. Pretty generic so they should help you out some ..

    Here is a link that might be useful: Instructions - page 13

  • 9 years ago

    Thanks Mike :-) I don't have holes in my hoops ("rafters") so will have to use tek screws. Do you know what size/thread/point yours are (maybe they came in a bag with a label?)? Instructions don't say. I need to buy some.

    And the eye bolts for the antibillow ropes go right through the aluminum channel for the wiggle wire installed at the purlin/hipboard? After you get the plastic installed and wire inserted?

  • 9 years ago

    I'm not sure if I'd trust using tek screws to support such an important and stressed part of the structure. The Tek screw heads are 3/8" and they're drill tip but I'm not sure of threads.. They're only about 1" long though..

    If it were me I'd just drill out the ground posts myself .. Be sure to hold the drill level (vertically and horizontally) or else you'll have a hard time getting the bolts to go through.. Grab a 9/16" or 5/8"drill bit and some 5/16" x 2-1/2" machine bolts and 5/16" nuts .. Get some applicable washers as well (nut side).. Nuts should be on the interior of the structure ..

    The eye bolts go just above the channel (through the ribbon board) .. I suppose you could go through the channel but the rope will be slightly lower and it may inhibit the roll up sides from going all the way up (do you have roll ups?).. Don't go the whole length with just one anti-billow rope... For instance I only went half way, then cut the rope and used another to finish .. This way if one breaks you still have half of the side supported ..

  • 9 years ago

    I don't have a hipboard/ribbon on yet, that will be in the spring. I'll have to run ropes from baseboard to baseboard until then. Yes, I read in manual to use short (relatively speaking) pieces so if 1 breaks you don't lose it all.

    My groundposts have 7/32 holes in them - PO (nursery) had nails stuck through and hoops sitting on top. They took the plastic off over the winter and I guess weren't worried about wind - the hoops must have been bent by rain collecting in loose plastic?

    I don't know what kind of drill bit and how much torque you need to drill through galvanized steel hoop (sorry, I don't know how thick)? DH breaks drill bits going through wood, I can't imagine asking him to drill out 44 hoops (going through both sides of both ends of 22 hoops). I was thinking just putting a tek screw into each hole, so 2 going into 1 end/groundpost, from opposite directions?

    I won't be leaving this up during the winter either. if we get strong winds (this summer kept having warnings but never saw any), the tunnel has about 1/2 mile to the south to go before it hits my uncle's house. I'm hoping it wouldn't clear the knob of ledge with the apple trees right at that end of it though, or the CRW fence around the main garden on the other side of the knob, or the blackberry hill the other side of that, or the stone wall and trees on the property line, or my uncle's pond ;-)

    I don't think wind from the south would lift it with the knob there, but we have a rise to the north and a lot of trees before you get to my house (about 500ft as the crow flies NW). Trees to the east and my pond to the west with more trees behind it.

  • 9 years ago

    Yea if you take off the plastic in the winter that should save you from the snow issue.. Suprisingly with just an average sharp metal bit and an 18v hammer drill you could get right through the steel.. Although if you tek screwed each side I'm sure you'll get away with it (perhaps someone with more experience like Bmoser could confirm this).

    It sounds like you have some decent wind breaks too, so I wouldn't be too worried.. Nice property huh?! That's great..

    @lindalana - started my batch of tea finally, she's foaming up nicely and smelling wonderful! Lol can't wait to see how it finishes.. I will be honest in saying that I was a little impatient .. Although the compost has cooled to outdoor temps there are still some solid pieces of organic material that haven't decomposed so I had to pick through those.. That's what I get for adding material towards the end of the active phase .. Should've left it alone lol .. Now I'm either gonna to have to remove those pieces, or heat the pile back up..