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Hoop tunnel questions/answers

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

I've learned a few things about hoop tunnels from fellow gardeners here a DG, but want to know more.

How long should the PVC pipe be? My beds are 34" - 36" wide by 24' long. I've measured the longest part of the inside of my Toyota Matrix, and I can manage up to 8' lengths.

Do I just stick the ends into the soil, or do they need to be fastened to something, or do the ends need to be slipped over something? I was thinking of re-bar.

I've tried floating row covers in the past, but the fabric tears easily. What alternatives do y'all suggest?

Thanks :)

Allen Park, MI(Zone 6a)

PVC pipe comes in 10' lengths

I drive a piece of rebar into the ground and slip the PVC pipe over it to hold it in place.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

I get a length of pvc that is just a tad larger diameter than which diameter the hoops will be. Then, I cut it up into 12" sections and pound these into the ground around where the hoop ribs will go. Space them 12" apart. Then, just bend the ribs over and set them into the anchors on either side of your beds. I managed to retrieve all of my anchors when I moved by wetting the ground and using a pair of pliers? to grab em' They came up really easily.

Here's a collage of another option. The stiped sheet is my hoop, cause I hadn't bought the plastic yet. I've now got two rolls of clear plastic, 4 mil thick that I'll be using this season. And, if you notice, my ribs were spaced too far apart -- next set-up will have the ribs 12" apart. Also, in the sample pic, you can afix a brace piece down the center of the hoops for more stability, although I've not seen a lot of people doing that...

P.S. ALWAYS make sure your hoop is ventilated either by propping open the end(s), or you can punch holes all over it. I'm more inclined to control airflow by propping the ends. The holes will allow water to get inside, much like the WSing jug concept. Of course, if you want rainwater/water go for the holes!


This message was edited Jan 12, 2011 10:58 AM

Thumbnail by Gymgirl
Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

paulgrow - Hmm..... now I have to figure out how to get 10' PVC pipe into an 8' car! Hopefully it'll bend enough.

Gymgirl - your suggestion to purchase PVC pipe with a larger diameter is a good one - I hadn't thought of that.


If I cut a 10' pipe in half, will it be long enough to hoop over my 36" beds?

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

No need to cut it. I've driven home with my 10' pieces hanging out the window. Of course, when the wind hits 'em they start humming like an Aboriginal pipe! Drive slowly, carefully, hold on to em, and you'll make it.

Consider how much height you'd have bending only 5' over a 36" span. There's a calculation somewhere that will let you figure out how much height you'd have, but I'd have to Google it somewhere online.

Go with the 10'.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Gymgirl - when you say - go with the 10' - do you mean use this length as a hoop without cutting it?

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Yes. Your beds are 3 ft. wide, right? 36"? Bending my 10' length over my concrete pad that was 60" wide gave me a height approximately 3-1/2 to 4 feet at the middle of the arch. I had my veggies in 5-gallon eBuckets, so I guess I needed that much height to accommodate the height of the plants in the buckets.

Sure wish I could figure out the calculation that would tell us how much height you'd get from 10' spanning 36" wide...

You've got some time for turkey and eye dropper basting? Go find us a formula! (smile)

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Gymgirl - I couldn't find a formula, so I laid a 36" yard stick on the floor. Made an "arch" out of a 5' tape measure. The apex of the "hoop" was roughly at knee height - about 20" - that's as high as I need the hoop tunnels to be. I can cut each 10' PVC pipe in half.

The tunnels need to keep birds from eating the young peas! I haven't been able to grow peas for the past two seasons because birds eat the green shoots as soon as they appear above ground. Once the peas have reached a good size, they manage to stay ahead of the birds pecking at them.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Yep. Genius. I finally found an online calculator that let me put in 5' long and 36" wide, and the apex of the "hoop" is exactly 1.64021 feet --- pretty darn close to your 20" calculation...

Way to go!

This message was edited Jan 12, 2011 2:43 PM

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Gymgirl - thanks for the link, I saved it to my "favorites" in case I need it for another project.

I guess some shinbones are longer or shorter than mine (giggle)

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Glad to help out!

I'll be racing home in a few to drop a few more seeds in some starter mix this evening!

Allen Park, MI(Zone 6a)

I actually made mine hoop 12' to get enough height.
You can connect 2 pieces of PVC by using a coupling, it's very easy to do. My height is 4'.and the H.H is 7'wide.


Thumbnail by paulgrow
Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

That looks like a neat set-up, Paul. Once I get used to hoop tunnels, I'm sure I'll use many of the ideas shared here.

Where did you purchase the plastic covering?

Alba, TX(Zone 8a)

paulgrow, that is a really neat set up! And Gymgirl, I just seem to love your ideas. I keep printing them off and now need to go get more color ink cartrige for the printer! You guys rock!

HoneybeeNC, I've used old sheers for rowcover. You know, the sheer drapes my mother and grandmother had. They work well in white or off white. They let most of the sun in, wash up nice in the washing machine, and keep most bugs and birds out. I've found some of my supply at yard sales and some on clearance at Wally World. Some of them are too heavy, just the light weight ones.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

I am humbled, but glad you're using these ideas.

I've been toying with the idea of using tulle fabric (the lightest weight bridal fabric stuff) as a cover for my tomato plants in the spring. I'm hoping to keep the stinkbugs from laying eggs on the plants. The fabric is sheer enough to let air and light through, but I don't think the weave will allow a full grown stinkbug to land anywhere on the plant to deposit eggs. If it works, we might finally have a weapon against the dreaded Stinkbugs!

Close observation of your picture shows what seems to be a metal brace stabilizing the ribs, inside the cover. Please post more on this.


This message was edited Jan 13, 2011 12:51 PM

Allen Park, MI(Zone 6a)

Got the plastic at Farm Tek, they have a good variety of widths. Excellent customer service. You want a heavy plastic 6 or 8 mil, it can be reused for several years.Here's the link They have a great printed catalog also.

Yes, I put braces between the hoops. They tend to move sideways. Get the 1/2" galvanized bars at Lowes or Home Depot in the fence dept.. Very inexpensive.

Michigan State University has a great hoophouse program to help farmers in cold climates harvest year round.
I visited a hoop house trial at MSU a couple of years ago. It was 5 degrees outside with a 20 mph wind. Walked into the H.H. and this is what I saw, lush greens. Temp inside was in the 20's, no heat whatsoever. Picked the lettuce and ate it right on the spot.
I've been experimenting and through trial and error have a pretty good setup I just scaled down what I saw at MSU..

This message was edited Jan 13, 2011 3:24 PM

Thumbnail by paulgrow
Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

The USDA is promoting the use of high tunnels

Allen Park, MI(Zone 6a)

Great video.

Charlotte, VT

That was a good video. I tried making one over raspberries last fall with little success. Now I know how to build it better. I live in Vermont where it can get to 20 below. It doesn't seem like it could be used throughout the whole winter here. If I made one in the fall could I plant vegetables in it in March?

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

I finally decided to buy hoop loops and Agribon row covers to protect my seedlings from birds - placed an order today from Drip Works:

I only need something to give the seedlings a good start, and am hoping this set-up will do that for me.

Alba, TX(Zone 8a)

LOL! I was just looking at that e-mail! Still can't make up my mind between the PVC and now those. Hope you enjoy them and let us know how they work out!

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

Ya'll could save a little money on those "hoop loops" by buying #9 wire at your local Home Despot or Lowe's. Although they wouldn't have the string loops already built in it isn't that much trouble to wrap the string around each hoop twice for smaller garden beds like most folks have.

The wire comes in various sized rolls and you can cut the lengths whatever size you want to fit your beds as well as determine the height of the hoops.

Shoe (the miser!)

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

UBERShoe, the fantastic, frugal farmer!

I was just waiting for someone to come along and recommend buying and looping your own wire for a lot less $$...I shoulda' KNOWED who it would be!

And, glad to know it's #9 wire I should get...


Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Horseshoe - I had considered buying wire, as you suggested, but then I would have to cut it, which means I would have to purchase a wire cutter. Then I would be concerned about the wire hurting my hands, so I would have to purchase gloves to protect them. I would also have to figure out how to cut the wire to uniform lengths...

I could go on, but as you can tell, I really did consider your suggestion.

For $23.10 plus shipping the hoops will arrive on my doorstep ready to use.

terri_emory - Yes, I'll let you know how it works out.

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

I hear ya, Honeybee. Sometimes it's best to let others do the work for you so you can get on with other things; I know I do that sometimes. By the way, I never saw how big those hoop loops are on the link you gave. Was there more info someplace and I just didn't see it?

Shoe (waving at Linda the Texas Miser)

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

The loops are there. Use your magnifiers...

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

Heheheh, use my magnifiers? Which ones, I have several!

Actually I saw the hoops (had to scroll over cus I keep my print so large) but I can't tell their measurements. Thought if they gave some specs I could cut some to those dimensions.

Shoe (off to stir his pascetti sauce)

Allen Park, MI(Zone 6a)

Johnnys seeds has a bender in their new catalog.
It bends "top rail" pipe used on chain link fences.
You can bend into either a high or low tunnel.

It looks like a great idea.


Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

Mornin', Paul...

I've been looking at those, too. There is another site that has them a little cheaper I think, selling different size benders.


Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Horseshoe - I had to Google "Hoop Loops" to find the size from another web site. If I remember correctly, the width at the a base is 16" and the height at the apex is 23"

I chose Drip Works because they offered the best price of the sites I visited.

Allen Park, MI(Zone 6a)

I used 1" PVC for mine and that worked fine, even with a heavy snow load.
I think the fence rail might work a little better for high tunnels.

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

Thanks, Honeybee. That's a good size hoop, perfect for young transplants as well as a wide row of mesclun/lettuces/etc. Much obliged.

Thanks Paul. I have that one-inch pvc over my boxed beds and it works perfectly. And I agree, fence rail is the way to go for the high tunnels.


Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Horseshoe - I plan to start my peas under the hoops to keep the birds from eating the young shoots. We haven't had home-grown peas for the past two seasons! The first year we had a great crop, but it was also our first year in our home here in Charlotte, and birds had not started to call our place their "home"

I love birds! Even the dog has learned not to chase them away.

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

I LOVE home-grown peas! I broadcast a bed like most people sow grass seed! I just wish I'd learn to grow so many I have to freeze some but unfortunately we eat them all, or friends come by to hang out in the pea patch.

Perfect use for those hoops. What kind of peas are you sowing this year?


Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Horsehoe - Wando and Burpeena Early - two unopened 2010 packages of each. I'm thinking/hoping the same about the hoops.

I also have a -package of Sugar Snap. The birds only left me one vine last year, so I'm not sure I'll sow them again - there's no way I can protect the 6' vines!

Hutto, TX(Zone 8b)


I've been growing Sugar Snap or Super Sugar Snap for the past 3 years. I only have to protect the tiny seedlings. Once they get a little bigger, growing up a piece of 4-foot fence, I keep birds away from the plants with a plastic owl. I move it from fence post to fence post every day so the birds don't get used to it being in the same place all the time.


Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

Good going' Honeybee, those Wando peas will handle an early heat better than most peas will. You could even successive sow that variety.

Birds don't seem to mess with my peas much. I wonder if rabbits are getting your pea seedlings. Course now, crows are notorious for pulling up seedlings, too.


Alba, TX(Zone 8a)

Shoe, often I will purchase something and figure out how they made it. And then improvise and make more myself. I may just buy the wire hoops and then get some PVC and make more hoops from that. That way I can see what works best for me. I usually use cattle panels. Those are easy to bend long wise, but not so easy to ben height wise--if you see what I mean.

I have the crow problem right now myself. So I think hoops and row cover will be a good thing.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Shoe - I'm positive it's birds, not rabbits eating the peas. I've actually seen cardinals pecking at them! They like the tendrils best, but also peck off the ends of the actual pods. If the peas manage to set the pods, at least we only lose the ends.

I haven't seen crows in the garden, and I think I woul know if they were there 'cause those birds can't ever be quiet!

David - I have thought about trying to protect the Sugar Snap peas, but can't figure out how to cover the seeds. The poles and twine I have for them to grow on are in the way of any protection I could provide.

Are there any dwarf varieties of Sugar Snaps? I should check on that for next year.

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

Birds know a good thing to eat, don't they Honeybee! I have a pea variety that is grown strictly for the tendrils and shoots; I'll have to check my seed larder to see if the name is on them. I think it was something Oriental.

I would think you could drape remay/row cover over your peas. Maybe that would keep the birds away.

Terri, I use cattle panels, too, but keep them as is attached to T-posts in the garden and grow beans and/or tomatoes up them. Sure makes it easy to put up a trellis that way.


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