by Beverly Clark, El Paso Master Gardener
We extended our growing season – and you can, too! We have built our own raised bed hoop houses to grow cool weather crops at the El Paso Master Gardeners’ Texas A&M AgriLife Vegetable Demonstration Gardens. Our raised bed hoop houses, like row covers and cold frames, function like a small greenhouse as they give some winter weather climate control, protect against hungry insects, allow a longer growing and harvest season, and provide a safe place to start new seeds and to set out transplants.
In the fall of 2019, and on through the winter and spring of 2020, we brought our El Paso Master Gardeners Facebook viewers along with our Raised Bed Hoop House Journal providing them with updates on a new gardening adventure for us: growing cool weather crops in raised bed hoop houses. Through the updates, they got a close look at the hoop houses, what we were growing, issues we encountered, fixes, and the many amazing vegetables we harvested. Because we used 6 mil greenhouse plastic for the covering, the raised bed hoop houses in this installation were for fall, winter, and early spring use. We had a blast growing all those great salad greens and kale in the raised bed hoop houses. We learned a lot and consider them a great success! We hope that we will be able to put these multi-functional gardening structures into use every fall.
Some of our Facebook followers expressed interest in plans for the raised bed hoop houses, so detailed instructional building plans were created. You’ll find them in our new category created on our Learn » Garden Topics-Links page on our El Paso County Master Gardener website. The category is called Gardening with Hoop Houses, Row Covers, and Cold Frames and is found under the Fruits and Vegetables subheading. We will be adding more information on hoop house, row covers, and cold frames to this category over the next few weeks and months.
As a teaching document for our raised bed hoop house plans, we have a detailed 21-photo instructional web page with a slideshow called The Raised Bed Hoop House–El Paso, TX (slideshow). These photos and instructions are also in a 12-page downloadable and printable document of the building plans called The Raised Bed Hoop House-El Paso, TX_printable PDF. In the main body of the hoop house building plans, there is information on the tools and materials needed. Assembly tutorials for each phase of the construction are also included.
The building plans for this raised bed hoop house are meant to provide enough information and guidance for even those with minimal skills to accomplish the construction. It must be noted that no lengths for cuts are listed in these building plans, as those will be determined by the size of hoop house that you choose to build. The construction plans and instructions you will see in this raised bed hoop house building tutorial are based on those used by volunteer members of the El Paso County Master Gardener Association to build the raised bed hoop houses now in use at our Texas A&M AgriLife Vegetable Demonstration Gardens.
Please read and understand fully all steps in the building plans before selecting materials and starting construction. How you choose to build your own raised bed hoop house is, ultimately, up to you. Always practice care and safety as you go through the construction process. Once a hoop house is completed, it should provide you with several years of use without maintenance, as long as it is stored in a level, protected area when not in use, and barring any damage sustained by storms, hail, or misuse.
For more articles on hoop houses and other small greenhouse-type structures, see the category Gardening with Hoop Houses, Row Covers, and Cold Frames under the Fruits and Vegetables subheading on our Learn » Garden Topics-Links page.