The Hoop House
It wasn’t quite as easy as we thought it would be, after all. But finally, such as it is, we have a hoop house for the young tomatoes that are still shivering in the Seattle cold and wet. At its center, it stands about seven feet high. It is about nine feet by ten feet, a cozy home for six tomato plants and two rhubarbs that somehow were there anyway. I envision being able to tie the vines to the spines of the house as the plants grow. Inside the shelter, the air seems several degrees warmer. So it’s all good.
Joe was involved in preparations for his upcoming meeting this week, so I thought I could do most of this by myself and just get his help when I really needed it. I bought the ¾” PVC pipe in ten foot lengths, as the instructions said to do. Since this house was going to be about half the size of the one described, I only needed eight lengths of pipe. I got two three way connectors and two four way connectors. I got eight pieces of rebar in foot long lengths and I was ready to begin.
I measured the plot and planted the rebar in two rows at 36”. Then it got kind of tricky. I stuck each of the ten foot lengths of PVC over the rebar and watched them wave in the wind. What now? I called Joe to help me make the connections. He would have to bend the bars and connect them to the connectors. He bent the first two and connected them. Snap! They flew apart like a rifle shot. This wasn’t going to work. We took everything down and I went back to the hardware store to get PVC glue for the connectors.
Now we had twenty-foot lengths of pipe stretched out on the grass—and it was starting to rain—again. We dragged them into the house so that the solvent would cure and left them stretched out overnight. Good thing Joe’s office is longer than twenty feet.
The following morning, we tried again. It was still cold, but at least it wasn’t raining. This time, Joe was able to get the hoops up. The two ends looked a little precarious so he lashed them with wire. He inserted the spine pieces down the center of the house. Now we were ready to lay the Visqueen over the hoops. I cut twelve feet off the roll and we carefully draped it over the hoops. To keep the Visqueen from flying off in the next breeze, I secured it to the poles by weaving pieces of wire through the plastic and tying them to the poles. Beautiful! Now I just hope it holds up through the summer and into late fall so that we can have a long season of tomatoes in our unseasonably cool Seattle summer.