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Stan builds high tunnel (aka hoop house) greenhouses for clients. These greenhouses extend the seasons and even unheated can help hardy crops through the depths of winter.
With a heating system these greenhouses can be the start of a thriving business. High tunnels collect all the light, i.e. from all directions, and are better collectors than many greenhouses. The minimal cost and simple, strong framework bring the benefits of a working greenhouse within the reach of many people.
We usually start by amending the soil with compost and sand. This works better before the frame is built.
The base frame is a bottom perimeter consisting of a treated 2x4 on edge. Above that is a 2x2 frame used to mount the hoops and retain the plastic. The hoops are 1 inch PVC pipe 20 feet long. There are three horizontal pipes (one on each side and one at the top) to brace and reinforce the structure. Models up to 80 feet long by 10 feet wide and 7 feet high are possible with the 20 foot pipes we use. Wider widths are possible but at the sacrifice of comfortable working height. Pricing starts at $4/square foot.
This early version does not have the shoulder-high pipe braces that run horizontally. It is also taller and narrower than we now build.
We use a heavy 6 mil plastic that is clear and specially treated to resist weathering due to ultra-violet rays. The high tunnels are cozy even in the snow.
The basic package does not include a door but provide for easily opening closures at each end. The ends may be rolled up and the sides lifted for summer use.
These hoop houses are useful for starting early plants with the extra light or harvesting hardy crops like this kale late into the winter.
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