There’s always a new project being completed here at my Bedford, New York farm.
Now that it’s autumn, all my tropical plants must be stored indoors and safe from the cold. I use hoop houses designated specifically for these warm weather specimens. The hoop houses are constructed from steel frames and polyethylene panels. This year, it was necessary to build another structure to accommodate my growing collection of plants. I decided the best place was in front of my vegetable garden across the carriage road from one of my existing hoop houses. It was a big project – there were many steps involved to get it built properly, but now it’s up and already being put to good use.
Enjoy these photos.
Over the summer, I decided we needed an additional greenhouse to store my many potted plants for the winter. The best location was right here in front of my vegetable garden right off the carriage road. We started work on it a few weeks ago, so it would be ready before the first hard frost.
After measuring and marking the space, my outdoor grounds crew foreman, Chhiring, uses a motorized sod cutter to remove the grass.
All the sod pieces were neatly rolled and then carefully removed. We don’t waste anything here at the farm, so whenever possible, we always repurpose and reuse.
This thick gravel bed helps to level the ground and ensure good drainage.
Here are the pipes that make up the framework of the hoop house. The entire structure is built using heavy gauge American made, triple-galvanized steel tubing.
Pete, who is an excellent builder and helps with many of the projects here at the farm, measures the footprint several times to make sure everything is even and square.
Meanwhile, the propane tank that will fuel the heater is installed. These hoop houses are temperature and humidity controlled. They work by heating and circulating air to create an artificial tropical environment.
The pipes are laid out on the gravel, so the team can assemble them properly and efficiently.
Here, Pete and Doug my property manager begin hammering the first of many base posts. The removable metal cap at the top of the base post protects the hollow pipe while being pounded.
They are positioned several feet apart and will hold the upright frame supports.
Pete and Fernando, another longtime member of my crew, build each of the overhead frame pieces. This framework shape is known as gothic style. It is the style I use for all the hoop houses on the farm. I chose it because of its high peak which can accommodate my taller plants.
Doug, Pete, and Fernando put the last arch up. The steep roof slope of this structure will also prevent snow accumulation during the winter months.
Fernando and Pete secure the horizontal wood boards that will support the side framing.
The back of the hoop house is framed for the twin panel walls.
And next is the fabric cover. The fabric comes in two rolls – one is a heavy-duty, woven polyethylene that features an anti-condensate additive to reduce moisture buildup and dripping. The other side contains UV additives that allow the fabric to maintain its strength through the seasons.
The team hoists one roll on top of the frame and then the second on top of the first. The two sheets are well labeled, so there is no confusion as to what side faces up and what side faces down. The fabric is pulled taut at the ends of the framework and secured.
In the back, Doug installs the twin polycarbonate clear wall sheets. Significantly lighter than glass, these sheets are east to install and will insulate the structure from both the front and back.
This Polyethylene fabric is designed to stand up to just about any climate. It also resists rips and tears, so it could last up to 10-years depending on the weather.
Another large sheet of twin polycarbonate paneling is ready to be cut. This will be one of two sliding doors.
Pete trims the clear sheet to fit the end wall doorway.
Screws and bolts secure the panels to the metal frame.
A metal track is installed at the top and bottom for the doors.
The best part about these 10-foot tall doors is that our tractor can roll right in through the opening with the heavy potted plants. It will make storing them faster and easier.
The space between the two layers of plastic is filled with air to keep the hoop house taut, smooth and insulated. The air layer prevents heat loss at half the rate of single-paned glass. On the sides, these manual roll-up curtains can be raised and lowered for ventilation purposes. The finished hoop house is now ready for storing my tropical plants – and just in time. By the end of this week, night temperatures here are expected to dip into the 30s.