Building A Cheap Hoop House With Andrew Odom

Posted on Jan 22 2010 - 5:20am by Mike Lieberman

Andrew Odom (@AndrewOdom) is one of my imaginary friends that I met on Twitter. He lives and gardens down south in Georgia.

He built an almost recycled hoop house for his garden for under $30. I’m jealous.

Since the small plastic greenhouses that I made failed, this is something that I will definitely consider for my backyard vegetable garden in Brooklyn next winter.

Curious as to what went into the construction of Andrew’s and the results, I asked him a few questions that he kindly answered.

Where’d you get the idea of the hoop house?
I wanted to grow beyond the traditional season and I still had some plants that were hanging on and I definitely wanted to try something out of my comfort zone. After seeing The $50 Greenhouse, I knew I had it in my to give it a try.

How much did it cost to make?
It cost about $29 in actual legal tender but about $75 worth of begging, borrowing and pleading.

How long did it take? Actual time spent working on it? And actual time from beginning to end?
It took me about a week to get all the materials together (including the plastic and PVC), about 6 hours of actual labor. I kept it up from about November 4 to about January 16. Full photo set of building the hoop house.

What was the most difficult part in making it?
The most difficult part was manipulating the plastic without putting any holes in it or allowing for any air draft. The plastic needed is in one large sheet and required a second and third set of hands at times.

What were the results? Did it work?
The results were about 3 harvests of baby romaine lettuce, 1 harvest of purple cabbage (7 heads) and 25 or so sweet onions. We did lose some plants to an unpredictable (and totally unexpected) freeze in early January. Because we were using geothermic temperatures as well (the raised beds were actually one inch into the soil causing the roots to dig into actual earth and not just developed bed) we had to deal with unseasonable ice. It worked well though…especially for a first (and rather unorthodox) try.

What was it like deconstructing it?
Deconstruction was easy. The plastic was contractors plastic so I didn’t expect it to work more than one season. Because it had weathered – stretched and sagged a bit – I ended up just kind of ripping it off and folding it to be used later on random projects. The PVC I took down, labeled for next year and taped up. Check out his hoop house deconstruction photo set on Flickr.

Would you do it again? If so, what would you change?
I would do it again, for sure, but I would make the skeleton a little more stable using a wood framework for the front and back and only using PVC in the middle structure. I would also give myself more plastic to negotiate rather than being so specific with my measurements.

Thanks Andrew. Now I feel like a complete lazy ass for putting a garbage bag over my containers and calling it a day. This would’ve been so much more practical. Great work my man!

15 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. andrewodom January 22, 2010 at 7:41 am -

    Thank you for featuring me, my blog and my hoop house. It really was a labor of love and I enjoyed every moment of it. My family (especially my wife) was thrilled to have fresh greens even when the ground outside was frozen. I would recommend the project (of varying sizes and scopes, of course) to anyone as it can be downright inexpensive and easy! Trust me. If I can do it? Anyone can.

  2. Mike Lieberman January 22, 2010 at 8:04 am -

    Word up. Thanks for showing me up! Definitely on the to do list for 2010.

  3. Marisa February 5, 2010 at 1:39 pm -

    Wounderful idea! I had a similar one, but mine is a year round PVC hoop house that is more like a lid. It has hinges on one side and flips over for easy access to veggies. I have one for each of my larger raised bed's. It took us 2 hours to construct and cost us 30 bucks per house. I grow tomatoes, garlic, onion's, potatoes, carrots and spinach to name a few!

  4. Mike Lieberman February 6, 2010 at 10:05 am -

    That's awesome Marisa. Do you have a link to any pics or anything on how you constructed it?

  5. Mike Lieberman February 6, 2010 at 6:05 pm -

    That's awesome Marisa. Do you have a link to any pics or anything on how you constructed it?

  6. Cynthia June 14, 2010 at 7:14 pm -

    Mine is similar to this, but on a very small scale. I used PVC to make hoops on each bed and I added a medium weight insulating cloth on top by using clamps. Here are a couple of posts from my blog about it. The insultaing cloth still did not protect my vegetables during an actual snow storm that we received (very rare to have snow), so next year, I will try some plastic and the cloth and just open it up daily on the days where the temp may rise while at work and close it up at night. The hoops are removeable, but I just leave them up all year round unless I am planting something that requires the extra room. I need to do a post on the garden, since I have lowered the beds and changed a few things around. I must say the hoops really do help even if you loose a few plants, think of what you would have lost without them. No bring plants indoors, etc.

  7. Mike Lieberman June 14, 2010 at 8:10 pm -

    Nice. Might look into building some similar.

  8. Praiseyourdog February 7, 2011 at 3:55 pm -

    Please be mindful of the use of PVC- its manufacture creates dioxin in our environment. In Canada especially, First People have dioxin in water due to PVC manufacturing.
    Please be mindful in the use of toxic and energy hog (plastic) materials.
    LOVE your design- what is substitute for PVC?
    Check it out for yourself…dioxin present in many Canadian rivers- related to plants manufacturing PVC-
    Be mindful of plastics based on lots of oil production.
    Reuse- recycle-
    PVC is BAD idea for gardens- please research it yourself.
    Not environmentally safe.
    It doesn’t make sense to use plastics in trying to enrich the planet…the resources used to make these (OIL=PLASTIC) offsets any benefit to our one green earth.

  9. Mike Lieberman February 7, 2011 at 5:09 pm -

    Thank you for the comment and concern. I understand what you are saying, but you haven’t offered an alternative or solution.

    That would be helpful for those looking to build one and not use PVC.

  10. Ndindacathy May 8, 2011 at 8:48 pm -

    Hey. This is very informative. I do have a question: How do you water the plants?

  11. Mike Lieberman May 9, 2011 at 2:19 am -

    The same way as traditional plants.

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