Paul Nickerson

Hoop-House Tunnel: Extending the Season

In Gardening on May 1, 2011 at 1:28 am

Finished Hoop-House

For both Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), and family gardens, the desire to extend the growing season has always been a common goal. Many options, such as cold-frames and low-tunnels have been developed using a number of different materials. Today, I want to share with you all how I constructed a low tunnel in our CSA to get a head-start on moving some of our seedlings into the ground.


This tunnel was constructed using three-quarter inch PEX tubing for the ribs, and a 10ft length of 1inch PVC for the spine. The plastic is from a roll of HUSKY, clear plastic.

Once the row was turned with compost, and set, the irrigation lines were laid out, and the row was planted. We decide to put down onions, as they would most likely survive regardless of the outcome of the tunnel.

Row Preparation

The PEX was cut into ~6ft sections. A string, and two stakes were used to mark a straight line along the edge of the row. This worked as a guide to determine where the side of the tunnel would fall. One side each rib was inserted 6 inches into the ground every two feet along a ten foot length of the row.

Hoops Set

Once the first side of each rib was secured into the ground, the first rib was bent over the row, and inserted into the ground 30 inches away from the first side. The rest of the ribs were measured two foot on center from the first rib. The 10ft spine was hung on the bottom side of the ribs using project wire. When attaching the spine, be sure to center the tops of the ribs at two feet before fastening the rib in place.


To cover the frame, dig a six inch deep trench around the entire frame. Stretch the plastic over the top of the frame and center it. Without burying the back end of the plastic, work from the back of the two sides and bury the plastic sheet along the edges moving toward the other end of the frame.

To finalize the edges, pull the ends down into the trenches and fold the corners that form toward the middle of the frame, very much like folding hospital corners. Be sure to pull the irrigation lines through the plastic before finalizing the ends. (I forgot that part and had to open the end back up.)

The tunnel has held up through all the intense weather we have experience these past few weeks here in PA, and the onions are growing wonderfully. Definitely a good investment!

  1. […] today I finally decided to pull back the Hoop-House and see how our onions were doing under there. Here are some photos comparing the onions that were […]

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