A Mini-Hoop Tunnel

This miniature hoop tunnel isn’t meant to stand up to the weather the way an old-fashioned cold frame will, but it’s inexpensive, fast and very easy to put together. For protecting young plants from weather or insects, hardening off seedlings, getting a head start on cold hardy crops or extending the season when cold weather sets in, a mini-hoop house can’t be beat. And once you’ve assembled its components, you can put it up and take it down over and over again, storing it in a small area when it’s not needed.

 Materials

  • three 4 foot long pieces of 1 inch diameter PVC tubing (I used pipe left over from running a water line)
  • six approximately 1 foot long bamboo stakes, cut on the diagonal on one end, thin enough to fit inside the PVC tubing
  • sturdy tape to wrap the bamboo if it’s cracked
  • two 5 foot long 1” x 4” pieces of wood
  • one sheet of greenhouse plastic, approximately five feet wide by ten feet long and/or row cover fabric of the same size
  • fist-sized or larger rocks, as needed
  • heavy metal clips or strong clothespins

 Tools

  •  hand saw (if needed to cut PVC tubing, bamboo, or lumber)
  • heavy duty stapler
  • hammer
  • measuring tape

If you need to, cut the PVC, bamboo and lumber to size. If you are cutting up old bamboo poles to make your stakes, they may be cracked. If so, wrap a piece of duct tape in a

bamboo posts for hoop house

bamboo posts for hoop house

strategic spot so the stakes don’t splinter apart when being pounded into the soil.

Choose a spot in the garden for your tunnel, then using the tape measure for precision, place the pieces of lumber evenly on the bed about 21 inches apart. Pound the bamboo stakes in, butting them up against the inside of the lumber and leaving about 4 inches of each stake sticking out of the soil. You will need to position two stakes on either end, and two in the center.

Slide the end of one of the pieces of PVC over one of the stakes, then curve the PVC until you can slide it over the stake on the other side. You will have to bend the PVC firmly to get it straight enough to slide over the other stake. Repeat with the remaining pieces of PVC to make three arches.

Laying out stakes and PVC hoops

Laying out stakes and PVC hoops

Spread the plastic or row cover fabric on a flat surface. Center the pieces of lumber, one on each edge of the long sides of the material. On one side, push the lumber back a few inches so you can fold the edge of the plastic or row cover over it, then staple the material along the length of the lumber. Repeat on the other side. Roll the plastic or row cover around one of the pieces of the lumber. When it’s rolled up, one long edge with a piece of lumber attached to it should be on the outside.

Plastic attached to wood and rolled over the mini-hoops

Plastic attached to wood and rolled over the mini-hoops

Center the piece of lumber on the outside of the roll on the ground on one side of the PVC arches. Unroll the plastic or row cover up and over the arches to the ground on the other side. If necessary, roll the edge to make the plastic taut. Fold the loose ends of plastic to cover the ends of the tunnels. Use rocks to hold the lumber and ends of plastic in place.

To work under the tunnel or to vent it, simply unfasten the ends and roll up the side as much as desired, using clips or clothespins to hold it in place.

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