Home Gardening Hooping It Up: The Greenhouse Is Covered!

Hooping It Up: The Greenhouse Is Covered!

Hooping It Up: The Greenhouse Is Covered!

greenhouse coveredThe hoophouse crowned: Clouds parted, the angels sang.

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.

Bulldog collage final

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.

plastic covering for greenhouse hoophouseStep 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.

tossing a line over the hoophouseStep 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.pulling the ropes to move the plastic on the greenhouseStep 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). building a hoophouse greenhouseStep 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. secure the plastic first to the top of hoophouseStep 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. covering hoophouse securing plasticStep 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.takes a village to raise a hoophouse

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.  interior hoophouseLate afternoon shadows find a rich canvas on the hoophouse’s new cover. Next step: build end walls and doors, then cover. feet up and in the hammockOnce 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.

Related links: How to (DIY) make your own hoophouse, Introduction to High Tunnels, Greenhouses and High Tunnels


  1. Tommy, It looks AMAZING!!! I can come out and help if you ever need additional hands. No one else wants to give me a job so I’m happy to volunteer my services for you:)

    • Thanks Kristin, I have a new yoga-garden device for you called a Broad Fork, you stand on it and move around, sinking it into the ground. Then with all your core strength you pull the handles back and aerate the earth. Oh yeah, more fun than work anywhere. 😉

  2. That is fabulous – and bigger than my back yard!!!!! Maybe not quite but really close. That is huge. Have fun with the plants you put in it and keep us informed.

  3. That is one big hoophouse (didn’t know that’s what they were called). You should give tours, charge a little fee, and make money for treats for Boz 🙂

  4. Bravo! (A message just told me I had to type some more words, so here’s some more words) Bravo, beautiful, stunning, overwhelming, spacious, daunting, and delighted for your achievement! Can’t wait to stop by and go for a walk in the hoop house!

  5. Yeah for Tom! You will certainly have a lot to do; no time to get into trouble. I think I will proclaim that you are the Eliot Coleman of Vashon Island. You should have lots of extra for the farmers market and your friends. We share lots of things from our garden. Just to give you a large case of envy, we have butter beans, purple hull peas, rattlesnake beans, and squash coming up and the potatoes are about 10 inches tall. Huge asparagus spears this year because I didn’t pick any the first 2 years. Wishing you the best with your hoop house.

    • Wow, TG, I’ll take that honor any day. I believe Farmer Coleman is the hardest working man in Maine. As for your crops, holy moly, that’s a nice lineup. I am jealous and glad for you at the same time. I’m going to retry asparagus beds this year and keep up with mulching them and keeping the weeds out.

  6. Well, whoop it all! Wow.
    I didn’t know you were once a commercial fisherman, Tom. Prepare to get quizzed down.
    But while we’re talking landmark occasions at Tall Clover Farm: those are some rare and wondrous friends and neighbors you’ve cultivated, kudos to all of you.


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