Monday, October 19, 2009

Extending the Season with Quick Hoops

fall cleanup - quick hoops
In addition to my mini hoop houses, I also installed some quick hoops during my fall garden cleanup this past week. Now you may be wondering, why would I have both? While hoop houses and quick hoops both extend the growing season, each has it's own advantages and disadvantages. Hoop houses are obviously more expensive to build (or buy) and time consuming to put together, whereas quick hoops are very cheap to purchase and easy to install. However, hoop houses make gardening and harvesting crops a breeze and are more durable under wintry conditions than quick hoops.

Ultimately, the reason why I have both mini hoop houses and quick hoops is because each in my opinion serves a unique purpose in the four season garden. While I will attempt to grow year-round (or as close to year-round as I possibly can) inside my hoop houses, quick hoops are primarily used to give my fall crops the added warmth and protection they need to mature in the event the weather gets unexpectedly cold quickly, which is what happened this past week. After harvesting, the quick hoops will be put away until it's time to get an early start on spring sowings. Quick hoops can also be used to overwinter crops like carrots, in which case, you sow the seeds in November and harvest a super early crop in the spring. Here is a great article about this technique, which was pioneered by farmer/guru Eliot Coleman.

quick hoops 2
So here is how I set up my quick hoops: I had two raised beds measuring 3 ft by 6 ft each that I needed to cover. I went to Home Depot and purchased 4 quarter-inch PVC conduits measuring 10 ft long. At home, I used a hacksaw to cut each in half, down to 5 ft lengths. I placed 4 hoops over each bed, driving them at least six inches into ground. I was surprised by how sturdy they were, the tension strong enough to keep them perfectly straight. Then I laid 6 mil polyethylene over the hoops and secured it with clothes pins. Finally, I placed a large stone at each corner to keep the poly from blowing away under windy conditions (sand bags can also be used).

first snow 2
It rained (and snowed) all day Sunday and the quick hoops performed beautifully. Do you utilize quick hoops in YOUR garden?


  1. Thomas,
    Enjoyed this informative post. All we need now is a more uniform garden patch.

  2. Impressive hoop houses...In my community garden the plots need to be put to bed by November--a policy more motivated by keeping maintenance simple. But I hope to someday have fall crops so successful that I'd be able to need quick hoops.

  3. You have lovely garden. Thank you for this post on hoops.
    I dont use them as Im worried how would I get to vegetables when snow falls and covers hoops... we sometimes get lots of snow. I have a small greenhouse instead.

  4. I have thin metal hoops for my remay, but it doesn't stand up to snow well. It isn't strong enough. I keep thinking of doing the whole Coleman winter growing thing, but still haven't.

  5. Your gardens look so wonderful and neat, both with and without the hoops and hoop houses. For some reason i am picturing a cottontail rabbit tucked under one of the hoop houses, staying warm and snug.

  6. Very good, Thomas. Your garden looks so tidy! I hope your covers perform well for ya.

  7. Very nice and simple ! What's next, a full size polytunnel ? Hmm, seeing the area you're covering and your commitment to stretching the growing season, it might be something to consider ...

  8. Randy - Thanks! I think you have a beautiful garden filled with amazing wildlife.

    Sally - It's a same that they make you shut down in Nov. I can understand if they need to shut off the water but they should at least let you try to garden all year round if you want to.

    vrtlarica - I envy the fact that you have a greenhouse.

    Daphne - I say you give the Coleman thing a go in 2010!

    quiltcat - Any bunny that steps foot inside my hoophouses will be toast!

    EG - I hope so too...I would hate for this to turn out to be a pipe dream.

    Miss M - I would LOVE a polytunnel...and if all of my student loans were paid off, I would love to have a farm attached to the polytunnel too!

  9. Oh how cute...I love your little houses Thomas...will they hold up under the heavy snow? Good thing you had them with the stupid storm we just got!! Very interesting - and as always FABULOUS photos.

  10. Hello,
    I have been considering quick hoops, but I am a bit curious about watering. Is water delivered within the mini hoophouse or does it just wick in from the surrounding soil? Thanks.


  11. It's great to see all this enthusiasm. I just wanted to let everyone know that Johnny's Selected Seeds now has benders for metallic conduit that will withstand snow load. We also have the agribon and plastic. You can view it all here: