Saturday, December 31, 2016 By: Ask A Master Gardener

Hoop Houses Extend Growing Season

Get head start on spring growing with hoop houses

Bill Sevier Ask a Master Gardener

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Q: I am interested in a hoop house. How do I get started? J.M., Tulsa
A: First, go to the OSU Tulsa Master Gardener website,, and look under “Tips and Techniques.” Master Gardener Gary Sanders has written instructions for an easily constructed small hoop house.
Hoop houses, also called high tunnels, have many different designs and uses; some are built on a large scale for commercial growers of vegetables and cut flowers; much smaller ones are used by homeowners. OSU has a fact sheet about high tunnels, HLA-6720, “High Tunnels,” which has a great deal of practical information about construction and management.
Hoop houses basically consist of bowed hoops, or arches, formed from various materials such as PVC or other types of bendable plastic pipe. The ends of the hoop are fixed either to a raised bed frame or anchored in the ground over a bed. The house is then covered with translucent plastic greenhouse film secured to the hoops and garden bed. The ends and sides are generally created in such a way that they may be opened up for ventilation when needed.
Hoop houses should be located in full sun and close to a water source. The location should have some wind protection; the plastic covers are susceptible to wind damage. Drip irrigation, which can easily and cheaply be installed, is ideal for this situation. The planting area is best if it is a raised bed, either a simple mounded bed of soil or one constructed of a wood frame. In any case, it should have good soil, high in organic material that drains well.
Hoop houses can give you a head start in spring for your cool-season vegetables or for growing sprouts. In fall, the same cool-season vegetables will produce deeply into winter. Some of the cool-season vegetables that may be grown include cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, broccoli, Swiss chard, lettuce, onion, radish, spinach and turnip.
A hoop house will also extend the growing season of warm-season vegetables like tomatoes.
It is estimated that a hoop house extends the frost-free growing season by as much as two months. If you place a second layer of plastic or a row cover fabric directly over the plants, the growing season for some vegetables can be extended throughout the winter.
Hoop houses do require regular care. Heat is collected from the sun shining through the plastic, and when too high, the ends of the house must be opened to allow the wind to cool the plants. In summer, when the temperature outside is above 90 degrees, a shade cloth should be placed over the house for additional cooling.
Consider building a hoop house, it is an easily constructed and useful project which is surprisingly productive.

Garden tips
• Any green weed in dormant (brown) Bermuda lawns may now be sprayed with glyphosate, found in Roundup and many others. This will kill anything green but will not hurt the Bermuda. Glyphosate cannot be used on dormant zoysia grass or tall fescue lawns at any time.
• Control overwintering insects on deciduous trees or shrubs with horticultural oil sprays in dormant concentrations; applied when the temperature is above 40 degrees in late fall and winter. Do not use “dormant” oils on evergreens.
• Inspect your irrigation system and replace worn or broken parts.
• Shelled or unshelled pecans should be stored in an airtight plastic bag or container in the freezer. Care should be taken that they are dried beforehand.


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