Skinning the hoophouse

Hoophouse: getting the plastic over

This is the spring of Finally… Today, we finally got the plastic on the hoophouse, can’t believe it’s been over a month since the frame went up! Anyhow, it’s done! A kinda huge turnout of people: Libby, Jordan, Andie, Tom, and Lynn (planting grain elsewhere during the hoophouse skinning). A bit of a breeze, but it didn’t get in the way. First, the ends went on, and then, the big job, which with a lot of hands is pretty simple. Started by pulling the plastic over* and loosely fastening it at one end (the many hands really help)…

Hoophouse: plastic half on

Next, we slid it along. I’m on the ladder, putting UV-resistant greenhouse tape over the edges of the ribs where they join the ridge, so they don’t rub on the plastic (clearly, that’s a one-person job…could’ve been done ahead)…

Hoophouse: plastic on

Get to the other end, and fasten it! There’s still a fair bit of wood work to secure it all, and electricity and then the squirrel cage fan to install, to inflate the double layer of plastic, but the main job is basically DONE. One more thing on the new-tiny-farm start-up-from-nearly-scratch list, practically checked off! (I should move the jumbo rain gauge to a completely unsheltered spot…)

*It’s a lot easier to lay the plastic out lengthwise beside the frame, then pull it over from both ends in one shot. We did it this way because there was only one tall stepladder, and to avoid catching the breeze on the full length of the plastic as it went up—a completely calm day is best, but with a lot of people, you can handle a little wind. (Photos 1 and 2 by Andie)

16 thoughts on “Skinning the hoophouse”

  1. Looks good – I’m jealous.

    If it were me, I think I would have laid out the plastic along the long side of the greenhouse frame and pulled it over the other way, with a person on a ladder on each end.  Then the front lip isn’t getting caught and falling down between each section as you move along – it can ride up and over the crest along the ribs. But I suppose many hands make light work.

    • I have built a few of these, and did find it easier to lay plastic along the long end. We tied ropes onto rocks or plumbing elbows on one long end, perhaps every 6 feet or so then threw the rocks or fittings over the top. People on other side caught them and pulled. The whole sheet came over quite nicely and then could be secured.

  2. Haven’t had time to check your blog much lately – it’s that really busy time of year for all of us market gardeners! Never enough daylight hours it seems. Looks like things are moving along really well for you at the new farm. It’s interesting to see how each grower handles different things. We pulled the plastic over our greenhouse frame as Tyler described because we didn’t have so many willing hands.  Noticed the first tomatoes on our vines this week….it’ll be some time before they’re ripe, but what an exciting discovery! Keep up the good work!

  3. Tyler, Sharon: You’re right, the recommended way is to lay the plastic out and pull it over at once. I added a footnote to the post explaining why we did it like this. We first laid it out to orient it properly, so the formerly south-facing side could be rotated to the north (this is a reassembly, reusing the old plastic), and then scrunched it up to pull it over at one end. Only really works like this, and on a breezy day, with lots of hands to help! :)

    Dan: It’s small for a production greenhouse, 20’x32′, we use it mainly for seedlings (so it’s obviously a little late this year!), but you could nicely fit couple of small plots in there!

    Faith: Yeah, fall seems to be a time for new tiny farm additions. That’s when we first bought and installed this hoophouse at the old farm, got the Kubota compact tractor, built the Milkhouse extension, pretty much all the major additions around here…

  4. Thanks for keeping up your great blog!  My first impression (as an oldster) upon seeing your lead-off picture was of four new Village People breaking out into a raucous round of “YMCA!”   :-)  Could you also do a wave?

    Tim Fuller,  who is going to have smile and a tune running through his head all day…

  5. Adam,
    I think Mike did business with Shelter Solution at  They are located in Ontario, Canada.  I have never done business with them so cannot comment on the quality of service and such, but their web site is really great and informative.

    • Yes, that’s right. Only got the one 20×32 hoophouse from them a few years ago. Everything about that purchase was handled perfectly, including some follow-up calls with questions. :) When calling, I speak with Norm when possible, and I’ve ended up chatted with him about some question or the other at least every couple of years.

  6. Is hoophouse different from greenhouse?
    Is it for healting winter or for shading summer?

    Sorry. I am not an English speaker guy.


    • The way I use the terms, hoophouse is a tunnel covered in plastic. It could be very big with a steel frame, or a simple small structure made with plastic pipe or anything else that bends.

      So a hoophouse is a type of greenhouse. If you say “hoophouse,” it always means plastic-covered tunnel.

      A greenhouse often refers to a more permanent structure, fully framed like any building, with glass or rigid plastic panes.

      lf you say “greenhouse,” it could mean a hoophouse or something more permanent.

      In tiny farming, at least, it’s probably safest just to describe what you’re talking about, like, “My greenhouse is a hoophouse, covered in plastic,” or, “I have a greenhouse with wood framing and Lexan plastic windows.”

      Greenhouses as I know them are for season extension, protecting plants from cold weather in spring and fall, and for growing in winter. They get incredibly hot in summer, so if you grow in them during warm weather, you need good ventilation.

  7. Hey nice hoop style greenhouse, have you ever considered setting up geodesic dome greenhouses? People have found them to have better performance due to the fact that there will always be at least one panel of the greenhouse facing the sun no matter what direction it is at.

  8. I built my green house 10 years ago with plastic snietehg I purchased from a huge gardening store it’s still up today.I fixed the plastic to the studs cross brasses with strips of thin timber to hold it in place, as just using nails would tend to pull out in the wind..Use your indiscretion when considering what thickness to use also talk with the person selling the product as they would have a better knowledge than us!Cheers!!


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