Check out my $50 greenhouse!
Am I proud of myself or what? I wanted an early start on my lettuce, peas and spinach, a frost-proof
place to get my tomatoes in early, and a way to extend my harvest into the late fall and even winter. I
had always managed to put together a cold frame out of trash picked storm windows and scrap lumber,
but I fantasized about a simple hoop house. So here it is. It took me just a couple of afternoons... ten
cinder blocks I scrounged somewhere.. ten pieces of 10 foot pvc (one inch) a scrap of 1 1/4 pvc and
assorted x and t connectors. (my only real expense!) I buried the blocks, and hammered a 2 foot length
of 1/4 inch pvc into each one, right into the dirt, to ground level. Then when I made the 20 foot "arch"
sections, I could just bend it and poke one end into each 1 1/4 "sleeve" in the ground. It stood there like
some enormous rib cage.

I happened to have come by a roll of heavy duty plastic from an art installation at the local college, and
it was 12 feet wide, so I made my greenhouse 12 feet long. I stapled and then sandwiched one end of
the plastic between too long strips of 1x2, then rolled it up like a window shade. Then I rolled it over
the top and anchored the other end to boards as well.

When it came time to cover the ends and find some way to attach the plastic to the pvc, I tried cutting a
bit of leftover 1 inch pipe into two inch lengths, and then cut up the side of each one with a hacksaw so
it could open, like a C-shaped clamp. I stretched these open (hard onthe fingers) and clipped them
around the plastic I had wrapped around the arches. Too long and they are too hard to open.. to short
and they pop off in a wind storm.
It's not gorgeous, but I have spinach already, and last weekend we had hail and snow. Yes, in April. (Welcome to
Ohio.) Anyway, I built a simple H shape out of scrap lumber, and buried the legs under the front end arch of my
hoop house. Then I cobbed the old wooden screen door right off the back of my house, cut it down by 16 inches
with a circular saw and reattached the screen. My kids were really amused. They told on me when their daddy got
home from work. "Mommy took the screen door right off the house!" He just sighed and went to Home Depot to buy
another one. He's a good sport.
So we're all pretty happy. My kids are impressed. After I took these pix I did one more thing: I drove wooden stakes
along the side walls, screwed eyes (like from hook and eyes) into the top of each one, then ran a thin white nylon
cord across the top of the hoop house in gap between each "rib". Then I used two small bungee cords to attach the
rope to the stakes, one on either side. When the wind really blows, the hoop house puffs out like it's going to sail to
the neighbor's... so the tie-downs seem to keep it a bit more secure, and not so flappy when it's windy. Anyway I just
had to show you these pictures because I'm really happy. This is my kind of project. It cost almost nothing, I could
do it by myself in a weekend,and I am going to have the earliest tomatoes in this part of Ohio. ;0)
It was really amazing how quickly a patch of
wintered-over garden became a dwelling of sorts.
It must be the same thrill neanderthal women got
from arching those big mammoth tusks, pulling
skins over them and having a nice warm house. I
built a few cold frames inside my hoop house with
bricks I pulled out of the dumpster at the Unitarian
Universalist church (where they're remodeling)and
topped the bricks with old storm windows. I made
a similar "H" out of boards for the back of the hoop
house, and made kind of a window by cutting a
flap of plastic out that I can open and close to