A Greenhouse Grows!
Building a hoophouse–make that a large hoophouse–has been a life lesson in humility. I believe I can still hear my naive and fateful words echoing in my head, “Just how difficult can it be?” Well, reality answered that succinctly and directly: a bit more difficult than I anticipated. While designing, figuring, staging, assessing, financing and erecting a 30′ x 72′ greenhouse structure has its challenges, basking in the possibilities and the good nature of generous friends makes it all worthwhile. Behold my radiant shrine to perseverance and helping hands (and paws). Here’s how we crowned the structure with UV-resistant greenhouse plastic.
Once Boz realized there were no snacks to be had, he moved on to more important things like barking incessantly at the rolls of plastic.
Step 1: With a metal pipe running through it, place the hernia-inducing, 120-pound roll of plastic on two sawhorses. Grab the end and walk the length of the hoophouse. Exceed the structure length by 2 feet on each end and cut the end off at the roll. Think the world’s largest (and most ineffective) roll of toilet paper.
Step 2: One on each end, two evenly spaced in the middle, tie a rope to the same side of the plastic. On the other end of the rope secure a small weight. Toss the lines over structure. (See the green line above.) Because the rest of us created impromptu bird nests and tangled webs, Jon (shown here in the brown jacket) became our official line tosser. Considering he was a former commercial fisherman, this should have been a no-brainer. The good news: our failed tossing attempts had immense entertainment value.Step 3: With the lines on the other side of the hoophouse, carefully pull the plastic up and over, one person per line. Have a couple helpers on the plastic roll side, lifting and creating loft in the plastic sheeting (and more comic relief). Step 4: When the plastic is drawn to the opposite side, pull the loose plastic to the ends of the structure to fully cover the roofline. Did I mention you should do this on a sunny, wind-free day. Warm plastic is easier to work with than cold plastic and billowing plastic is just plain impossible to work with. Here, Rick inspects and Karen holds on for dear life. Step 5: Rick the Nimble, secures the plastic first to the peak of the building, during which my lecture on safety first falls on the deaf ears atop an orchard ladder. Step 6: Exhibiting one of his famous Cirque du Soliel moves, Rick locks the plastic in the channel with wiggle wire, while John and Jon keep the plastic taut. The channel lock and wiggle wire hold the plastic in place on the top end edge and along the mid-span which is made of cedar.
Step 7: Step back and admire your handiwork. And yes, it takes a village to raise a hoophouse. Thank you Rick, Leslie, Jon, Karen and Jon; I couldn’t have done it without you. First ripe tomato (or pineapple) is on me. Late afternoon shadows find a rich canvas on the hoophouse’s new cover. Next step: build end walls and doors, then cover. Once everyone left, I thought I’d reward myself with a quick break on the hammock. I looked down to see a lawn in need of mowing. I diverted my eyes up, only to peer upon a porch roof dotted with moss and siding begging for a coat of paint. And that is why naps are so important. Close your eyes and it all disappears.