We bought the hoophouse to maximize our ability to raise our own food, and we were able to harvest lettuces and other greens all winter. In addition to helping us overcome the limitations of Michigan’s relatively short growing season, it also keeps the deer and bunnies from wiping us out, as they did so often in the past.
Total costs for our unit and additional supplies was about $2,500. Many thanks to the friends who helped us put it in. We expect to replace the plastic in five or six years, at a cost of about $500. (That fee may double if we elect to make ours a double-walled unit inflated with a small solar-powered fan.)
More sophisticated units have automated roll-up sides, since the challenge in the summer is to keep the interior cool enough. I simply roll up the sides with the hand-crank that was provided, but that means you have to be available to put the sides up and down as needed, often on short notice. During July and August, the interior of the hoophouse can quickly go above 100 degrees if you leave the sides rolled down.
Challenging as well is keeping the plants watered. I always find it odd to be out there watering even after a thunderstorm has gone through. But part of why plants thrive in a hoophouse is that they are protected from punishing winds and downpours.
Some people run a special line to the hoophouse with a frost-free hydrant to water during the winter. However, Adam Montri has found that the moisture inside the hoophouse is sufficient to keep the plants healthy until spring when it is again possible use hoses without fear of freezing./
This will be our first full year with the new unit in place, so expect frequent updates. Our new freezer is ready and waiting to help us make the most of our anticipated hoophouse bounty.