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A Pint-Sized Hoop House for the Limited Resource Gardener

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Those of you who have spoken to me or have heard me speak on the topic know I'm a dedicated disciple of hoop house gardening. While I recommend every commercial and home gardener take advantage of the season extension and weather modifying benefits offered by hoop houses, I realize there are many gardeners who do not have the space or the funds to construct a hoop house. With this in mind, we set our sights on developing a mini hoop house or mini tunnel, a name more appropriate for its size. While it is too small for a gardener to stand inside, it does offer the same benefits of larger hoop house structures.

After years of tinkering with existing mini tunnel designs and making various modifications, we've developed a mini tunnel custom designed for use with both our recycled auto tire and corrugated sheet metal beds. The mini tunnel will provide the gardener with a versatile, user-friendly means of protecting and enhancing the growth of crops growing in permanent raised beds.

The basic components of this mini tunnel are hoops made from PVC pipe, a polyethylene greenhouse film cover and hold-down straps made from 1/4-inch rope. The tunnel cover is held in place using rope straps located between each hoop. The straps enable the user to raise and lower the cover without unfastening or fastening the cover every time the tunnel is opened or closed.

Material cost to construct a mini tunnel to cover a 40-inch-wide by 30-foot-long Noble Research Institute recycled auto tire or corrugated sheet metal bed is under $90.

For a complete set of plans for constructing a raised bed mini tunnel, see page 81 of the Permanent Raised Bed Gardening PDF.

Steve Upson serves as a senior horticulture consultant and has worked at Noble Research Institute since 1988. He received a bachelor’s degree in horticulture from the Oklahoma State University and a master’s degree in horticulture from Kansas State University. Before joining Noble, he served as a county and area Extension horticulture specialist with the Oklahoma State University Extension service and managed a commercial market garden operation east of Kansas City, Missouri. His areas of interest include raised bed and container gardening, commercial market gardening, and high tunnel (hoop house) construction and management.

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