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Winter sowing hoop house

January 1, 2018

I built a hoop house set-up for winter sowing. Im definitely over-complicating things but I want to start a lot of seeds and don't want to look at loads of soda bottles sitting out in the yard. I'm using 2"x2"x5" deep plug trays, and the covering for the hoop house is an Agfabric plant cover (84"x72" 5oz weight). I havent sorted out how I'm going to access the inside, maybe through the ends, or I might create a flap or door in the top.

The blue packing straps are only on there while the PVC arches set and become bent. They were quite cold and rigid at first with the weather. If you made them during the summer you could warm them up in the sun, or in the cold blast them with a heat gun to soften them up, but I don't have one on hand.

I will do a few soda bottles as well for a control/back up in case this doesn't work.

Comments (17)

  • gagalzone8

    That is great! I am new to winter sowing this year. I am all about being creative and making life easier! I built a cattle panel hoop house to protect my rose cuttings (rooted) over the winter. It has really worked great. I had way too many to try to move in and out of the garage. It is unheated and we have hit the low 20s. I have 3 mil plastic over it. Everything looks fine so far. I used bungee cords to hold the plastic. I can roll up the sides on warm days and hook the bungee over to hold it. I am saving your info. I think that is a great way to protect them from squirrels (I despise those creatures!!! Hot pepper has been keeping them out right now) and dogs. Please let me know how it works out. Interested in results with the ag fabric.

  • Skip1909

    I had to look up cattle panel hoop house, that is a new one to me.

    I came up with this design to keep the height low and hopefully keep the humidity down low near the soil. I chose light weight agfabric because it will let water through, and hopefully allow some air exchange as well. It will be a test. I have to watch out for critters to see if they try to move in. I might have to cover the whole thing in hardware cloth then put the fabric over it.

    Now that I'm looking at the cattle panel, I am thinking I could have made a square wood base and then made the arch out of hardware cloth and then covered it in agfabric. Maybe next year if I need to expand.

    Filling all the plug trays took a lot more time than expected too!

    2 32quart bags just about filled 8 trays, so I got 3 bags to fill 10, and I'll use whatever is left over in the milk jugs and soda bottles I collected.

    I am seeding the trays tonight or tomorrow, and putting it out this weekend!

  • Skip1909

    Seeds are in, trays are out. There's no material on the bottom the trays are directly on the ground, I just put the hoop house over the trays and used repurposed metal from an old tomato cage like landscape staples to achor it down.

    Here is what I put in the trays, I seeded in rows of 10.

    20 Agastache scrophulariaefolia
    30 Agastache foeniculum
    20 Senna hebecarpa (Wild Senna)
    20 Delphinium exaltatum (Tall Larkspur)
    20 Geranium maculatum
    10 Callirhoe involucrata (purple poppy mallow)
    10 Eupatorium fistulosum ( hollowJoe Pye)
    20 Polemonium reptans (Jacob'sLadder)
    20 Aquilegia canadensis (Columbine)
    10 Ceanothus americanus (new jersey tea)
    20 Carex sprengelii (Long-beaked Sedge)
    20 Eupatorium coelestinum (Mistflower)
    20 Aster macrophyllus (Big-leaved Aster)
    20 Aster cordifolius (Heart-leaved Aster)
    30 Antennaria plantaginifolia (pussytoes)
    30 Tridens flavus (purple top grass)
    20 Cinna arundinacea (wood reed grass)
    10 Lathyrus venosus (Veiny Pea)
    10 Helianthus maximiliani
    10 Rudbeckia laciniata (cutleaf coneflower)
    10 Vernonia noveboracensis (NY iron weed)
    20 Astragalus canadensis (milk vetch)
    20 Sisyrinchium angustifolium
    20 Coreopsis lanceolata
    30 Asclepias syriaca Common Milkweed
    20 Rudbeckia fulgida
    20 Lespedeza violacea
    10 Penstemon digitalis

    Some of these will be planted in jugs as well. I also have seeds that don't need to be stratified, which will go out in containers in the spring.

  • gagalzone8

    Wow! You sure got a lot in there! That is great.

    Skip1909 thanked gagalzone8
  • Carolina Girl (Zone 8b)

    I like your hoop house! I may try something similar (one day, ha).

    I’ll be following your progress reports.

    Skip1909 thanked Carolina Girl (Zone 8b)
  • gagalzone8
    Cattle panel bent over.

  • Skip1909
    Its the first day of spring!

  • gagalzone8

    Sure makes me glad I live in the South! We are gonna hit close to 80 Saturday!

  • Skip1909

    Yeah that picture doesnt depict the 12" of snow that fell overnight after the picture was taken either. Heavy, wet, impossible-to-shovel snow at that. This is unusual for this time of year.

  • caryltoo Z7/SE PA

    It's been a miserable spring here in the east. Just starting to warm up and the overnight temps are still low (high 30s on Sunday night! Ugh)

  • Skip1909

    Yes most things havent germinated, and a lot of things that did germinate have since disappeared. All the rudbeckia fulgida I was banking on came up and then disappeared. Im suspected slugs, bugs or damping off killed them.

  • deannatoby

    Skip, I had some Rudbeckia fulgida germinate early last year (February) during a freak warm spell. Of course, we were nowhere near done with our low freezing temps. The cold did them in. I wonder if yours were similar--germination before they could handle the temps.

    Wintersowing is nearly foolproof, but I had few things germinate during that warm spell. I took a couple of jugs indoors at night for the rest of the winter (what fun), but all germinated seeds left outside in their jugs didn't survive.

    Skip1909 thanked deannatoby
  • Skip1909

    I also noticed many of the cells arent draining well when I water them. The jugs that I used 511 are growing a lot better than the jugs with the bagged mix. I am either going to make a ton of 511 for next year or mix the bagged stuff 50/50 with perlite.

  • Skip1909

    Hey galgalzone8, what is the length and width of that cattle panel green house? I want to build one now! Time to expand.

    For anyone else who stopped in here, a lot of things did eventually germinate and grow quite well from my setup. Im still going to switch to a 511 soil for this year, and use a heavier row cover material. The 5oz weight row cover fabric ripped during a heavy rain in early spring, and water gushed into some of the trays and eroded away some of the potting mix and seeds. That cattle panel looks ideal for supporting plastic or fabric, I think the lighter fabric would even work well with a grid support like that.

  • Jay 6a Chicago

    Wow, weird! I never saw this. What nifty things you can do with PVC lol!

  • Skip1909

    Yes the original hoop house worked but now I have set it aside for something with more space. I will repurpose the original one somewhere else.

    I liked that cattle panel design posted earlier but couldnt easily get a 16ft cattle panel home. I went with a more standard low tunnel design this year, with a wood base, pvc conduit arches and a pvc conduit ridge. This is the design I should have used last year but so many ideas go through my mind it got muddled up. This one is 12'x4', 0.55oz row cover fabric, which gives the least amount of frost protection but the most amount of sunlight, air and water passage. Hope it holds up to the snow.

  • Jay 6a Chicago

    I didn't know you made a second one. I had the unsown containers outside and they're all covered with snow. I went and got 12 more plastic bins. I will probably need them all anyway. The goatsbeard and Muhlenbergia seeds came in. It's been frigid for a few days. I didn't think it would get so cold, so fast.

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