The DIY Hinged Hoop House: An Update.

Is it working? Is it a disaster?  Will I just buy my food in the grocery store from now on?  All the answers to all your questions about my DIY hinged hoop houses revealed right here. 

Back in May I grabbed whatever useable bits of garbage I could find around my community plot and built myself a hinged hoop house.

Here’s the thing about building or making stuff with garbage.  When that thing turns out to be GREAT, you really regret making it out of garbage.

But I didn’t want to go out and buy all new materials for something I wasn’t 100% sure was going to work. Was it going to hold up to the crazy wind at the garden? Were cabbage moths (the things I was trying to keep out) going to get into the hoop house anyway, despite my efforts to build a fort around  my broccoli?

 

As it turns out, the hinged hoop houses work GREAT, the old materials – not so much.  Here’s the original tutorial with step by step instructions by the way.

So what would I differently?  Well I’d go out and buy the proper materials for one thing. Thick electrical conduit as opposed to the thinner wobbly PEX tubing I used because I already owned it.

I’d figure out a better way to secure the hoops into the wood frame and a better way to secure the top, stabilizing rail.  And oh yeah, I’d make sure that was straight and not all wiggly and wobbly.

Because if a hoop house starts out wiggly and wobbly, much like a bum, it’s only going to get wigglier and wobblier unless you make a concerted effort to do something about it.

The hoop house on the right of my plot isn’t nearly as wiggly because I had stiffer PEX pipe for making the hoops, but still only had the wiggly stuff for my top supporting rail.

Please observe the wiggly rail.

I decided even though the houses were still doing their job and no cabbage moths were getting in, I was going to have to fix them up for my own sanity.  My particular brand of crazy will allow for a certain amount of mess and dilapidation in a garden – but not this much.

So I ran out and got some plastic electrical conduit which is much stiffer  than the PEX pipe I had and I figured out a way to help the hoops stay stable even in strong winds.

 

The first thing I did was remove the interior structure of the hoop houses, the actual  hoops.  I then took one of the stiffer hoops and cut it into around 4″ pieces.  These would go right back into the holes my hoop house already had.

To stabilize these rods (which the new hoops would slip over) I screwed a screw right through the wood hoop house frame and through the plastic rod.

Now no matter how windy those things were going to stay in place.

To access them I just took out a few screws from my netting, did my work and then rescrewed in the netting.

Once these were all in, all I had to do was cut my new conduit to length and slip them over the old, smaller pipes.

The other thing that was driving me crazy was the wiggly tops.  Using a perfect straight piece of electrical conduit solved that completely.

Screwing a long screw through the centre of each end hoop gave the top stabilizing pipe a place to sit without having to use zip ties which always eventually break and sometimes rip the netting.

This photo should give you a better idea of how I did the top pipe.

 

Making your top post a bit longer than is necessary will give it some tension and help keep it in place.

As I was redoing these hoop houses I discovered part of the reason there’s a bit of a lean-to thing going on is because I pulled my netting way too tight. It’s literally pulling the hoops towards the centre of the house.

I was able to fix this a little bit by just cutting my hoops shorter.  With shorter hoops I was in essence giving myself a few more inches of fabric. The same way losing 5″ off of your waist gives your jeans a few more inches of fabric.

 

The hinged hoop houses are a lot straighter and more importantly a lot more stable.

Yep. Next spring I’ll do another makeover on them with new netting, not stretched quite so tight, some T-connectors for the top rail and maybe even some new wood that isn’t rotting.

They still aren’t perfect but ….

 

They’re perfect enough for my particular brand of crazy.

24 Comments

  1. Kmarie says:

    I laughed at your last statement because the biggest reason I click on your blog is to know there are normal, good, practical citizens in society making their worlds better places when other crazy news happenings seem to be doing the opposite . So crazy ? Nope… refreshingly good. I don’t even really do half the projects I read upon ( although love home improvement) but I find the way you write with humour and normal humanity a needed balm – even if I will never build my own garden huts;) in all sincerity thank you for making the world a better place by living and writing like you do.

    • TucsonPatty says:

      Amen, times a gazillion!! Love reading TAODS no matter what! Then I have little fantasies wherein I do some of the stuff, and I’m just as happy as if I had really done it!! Love me some Karen!

    • Sean Kelly says:

      100% Agree!!! I have been reading Karen’s blog for many years and only done one project: The glorious Pizza Oven. Her humour and wit are priceless distractions for me.

  2. Jody says:

    I finally figured out which garden your garden reminds me of……..the Dundurn Castle kitchen garden. I love strolling through there on weekends seeing what’s growing.

    • Karen says:

      Would you believe I’ve never been! I’m going to have to commit to going to see it this year. I’m sure it far outdoes mine. ~ karen!

  3. I’d say they look pretty damn good! Nice job!

  4. Heather says:

    You are a remarkable person! I love getting your e-mails announcing what you’ve been up to: That’s pretty amazing, because my favourite button on the keypad when I’m browsing my inbox is “delete.”

  5. Jessika says:

    Great job done!! <3 I love it – I will do that this weekend. Thanks! *-:-)

  6. A guy says:

    Given the dearth of comments this post has generated I will take this opportunity to raise a delicate issue.

    In your post of May 17, 2018, entitled “The English Cottage Garden”, you stated that your plan was “to have this done in 2 weekends”. Which according to my calendar means we should have seen a post, with numerous pictures, somewhere around the first week of June.

    So, what’s the deal?

    • Karen says:

      Yup, the garden is done, I just haven’t done a post on it because it takes a while for the plants to fill out and grow enough that you an actually see what they are. I just took photos yesterday as a matter of fact. The post will be up in the next week or two. ~ karen!

  7. Ev Wilcox says:

    “Home Improvement” indeed! Remember when Tim The Toolman Taylor would have a yearly joust with a doctor to see who would have the best neighborhood Christmas display? Couldn’t help but reminded of that while reviewing your excellent photos of your excellent handiwork! So I was wondering if the other gardeners at the community plots were working on THEIR gardens! So just kidding, Karen! Your garden does indeed look wonderful, but your improvements really help us readers a lot! Wind and bugs be damned- you have the best ever chance of defeating them both, as well as letting the rest of us learn and enjoy what you do, and we thank you! You rock! Ev

  8. Marsha Snodgrass says:

    Nice! I like these so much I’ll be copying them next spring😁. I look forward to your post everyday, it’s nice to know there another crazy obsessive gardening person in the world.😂

  9. Jen says:

    Is there a reason why you didn’t adopt the same method as the triangle-shaped lids, but with netting instead of wire? Is it a space issue, since the dome gives you more horizontal (?) space? I did a very half-assed version of what you did this summer and it worked like a charm! Thinking of making it more whole-assed this fall. Thanks!

    • Karen says:

      Oh yeah, go whole assed if you can. But I understand that it’s hard to go whole assed if you’re just sort of trying it out. The middle hoops are for strawberries to keep out voles, rabbits and mice. All of which will chew through flimsy netting. So to keep those types of pests out I went with hardware cloth. Plus it’s permanent and will last forever so I won’t have to replace it. Well not forever, but a while. ~ karen!

  10. Gabrielle says:

    Any tips on how to do “something” like this for those of us that are … err … height challenged? I like the whole idea of the hinged dome, but there’s no way I could reach across the width of the bed with one side blocked off by the opened dome. Do you climb into the bed to do stuff on the far side? How wide are your boxes? Thanks!

    • Karen says:

      Oh heck. Yes, just walk in there. I don’t go tromping through but to pick anything in the centre back I just step in a little path. You can reach the front and sides no problem but anything else, just walk in there. 🙂 ~ karen!

  11. Mary W says:

    Great job – you aught to do a DIY blog to help others! Towards the end of the pictures, I noticed several squares of plywood laying on the ground and couldn’t help but think there was a reason for it. Are you incubating something? Holding moisture in for a worm bed? I’m also wondering about the hinged bit as asked in previous comment.

    • Karen says:

      The hinged bit? I’m not entirely sure what that means. I’ll have to go back and reread the comments. 🙂 As fas as the plywood goes, it’s for setting down the two chairs I own but never sit in. In fact, I haven’t even brought them up to the garden yet, lol. ~ karen!

  12. Jeanie says:

    Love your cob oven , have a few questions…. how long have you had it, do you use it often, is it open to the weather, how has it held up? Whew I need to take a breath! Anyway new to your blog love it… my friend and I woundered if you want to be our new best friend?
    Thanks Jeanie

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jeanie! 1. I do not have time for friends. 2. I probably use the pizza oven every 2 weeks in the summer and once a month or so in the winter. 3. It’s held up perfectly. I cover it in the fall with a round waterproof tarp so that it doesn’t get wet. If it gets wet, then freezes it will crack). 4. I’ve covered it with a lime plaster so it is waterproof(ish) and can be left open to the elements all spring, summer and early fall. ~ karen! (friendless)

  13. Alena says:

    Hi Karen,
    What are you planning to do with your ‘domes’ in winter? Will you take them apart or do you have space to store them as they are?

    • Karen says:

      I’ll just pull the hoops down, lay them flat and cover the bed with a tarp to keep the row cover from ripping to bits in the wintery wind. ~ karen!

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