Easy Low Tunnel Hoops for Fall and Spring Gardens

How we made low tunnel hoops to extend our growing season.

[captionpix imgsrc=”http://blog.cleanslatefarm.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/overview-e1376773352485.jpg” captiontext=”Completed low tunnel hoops ready for covering.” imgtitle=”completed low tunnel hoops frame”]

[captionpix imgsrc=”http://blog.cleanslatefarm.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/end-cap-e1376773533146.jpg” captiontext=”A detail of the PVC T connecting the perlin (top brace) to the hoops.” imgtitle=”PVC T fitting to connect the purlin/top brace to the low tunnel hoops”]

[captionpix imgsrc=”http://blog.cleanslatefarm.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/mid-section-e1376773485320.jpg” captiontext=”The purlin connected to the low tunnel hoops using a zip tie.” imgtitle=”perlin/top brace connection on low tunnel hoops”]

Last year we had a cold frame to grow some early season leafy greens for the table. Success? Well…kind of. This year the cold frame will be for hardening off the seedlings we start in soil blocks.

We also built a PVC test low tunnel hoops that showed a lot of promise, until Calvin the cat ripped it open chasing water droplets. However it did stand up to the high winds we have during the fall, winter, and spring.

With the addition of two raised beds to the garden this year we upped the ante and decided to go with an ever sturdier low tunnel hoops solution, one made with 1/2 inch EMT or electrical mechanical tubing. A recent purchase of a low tunnel hoop bender from Hoopbenders.net at a very reasonable cost made this possible.

The process is quite easy and bending the four low tunnel hoops only took about 30 minutes. We plan on pushing them 18 inches into the beds and covering them with 6 mil contractors plastic from the big box store. One of them will have 6 mil UV grade plastic our neighbor uses for their giant hoop houses. She had some left over from when they recovered one of their hoop houses and gave us a great price…free.

You start the process of bending by marking off 30 inches from each end of the 1/2 EMT pipe. Simply insert the end into the bender and pull it across the frame moving it about 8 inches along after each pull. When you get near the end simply flip the hoop over and start from the other end. That’s it. As soon as I process the video I’ll post it to YouTube for clearer instructions. It’s as simple as it sounds and works to make a perfect 3 foot wide hoop that once pushed into the ground stands about 36 inches tall. If you cut the 10 foot EMT you can have a lower profile low tunnel.

I’ve devised and tested a method of securing the plastic to the low tunnel using 1/2 inch PVC and EMT connectors that seems like it will work very well without tearing the plastic apart. I’ll reinforce it with some white duct tape for extra strength. This will allow us to open the sides of the low tunnel a lot easier to plant or harvest. I will be posting the instructions on that as soon as I get it out of version one and get some pictures.

In the spring we’ll use the same low tunnel hoops covered with a agricultural cloth we purchased at Johnny’s Seeds to provide pest protection. Well, that’s the plan any way. We’ll see how it works and do a post on that as well. I’m concerned about the fabric tearing so I may need to experiment a little bit.

Thanks for visiting. Go grow something!

  • reply Your sister-in-law Pat ,

    Hey David–I saw these hoops in the barn during my visit Saturday. Didn’t know they were for your garden. Can’t wait to see the YouTube video on the construction.

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