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A Simple Cheap Hoop House Alternative To Extend Growing Season

We moved to our new homestead this April and found that it freezes at night even during summer. I had to come up with a budget hoop house alternative to save our garden. This cost me only $8 total and keeps our tomatoes going even down to 28 degrees so far.


This is our third attempt at gardening this year on our new homestead. The first attempt was to plant seeds in starter trays inside while we were moving into our new home. When the seeds got large enough we put them outside in the sun. While having a cup of coffee inside a ground squirrel ate off all the tops of our seedslings.


Our second attempt at a garden was to buy plants at the local store. We waited until after Memorial day when they say all danger of frost is past for our area. It was about a week after when we planted. It froze that night, killing all of our new plants.


Modified hoop house on a budget


Our third attempt at a garden was to buy more plants that very same day. We made sure there was not going to be another freeze on the way and put in our plants.


But we had very cold nights. It did not freeze anmore but it sure was cold at night. Due to our sandy soil we get 50 degree temperature swings from day to night out here. During the day it was in the 80s and 90s but at night it was down in the 40s and 50s.



Our plants were stunted and did not really start to grow until the end of July. Then they took off nicely. But just after mid August we had two nights of freezing. The first night took us by surprise. There was no warning at all.


We found most of our garden was destroyed. Our beautiful tomato plants were killed back by about 70 percent. We lost almost everything else.


We had not yet begun to really harvest anything from our garden. The plants were just turning and things were just ripening. Then it was gone.


I first trimmed off the dead vegetation on our tomato plants.


Then I bought 3 mil plastic drop cloths at the local store for $1.99 each. I got for of them for a total of $8. The first night I just put the plastic down over the plants but in the morning anything touching the plants was harmed by the cold. I had to rush out to remove the covers to prevent the sun from cooking the plants under the plastic.


I continued this for a while but figured I had to find a better way. It was tedious to sort out the plastic sheets and try to spread them out in the wind each night. I had to find a way to keep the plastic off the plants as well in order to reduce damage.


Everyone kept telling me about hoop houses. This is where you take some PVC pipe and form rounded frames over your garden rows. Then you can spread plastic sheets over the framing to protect your plants at night. But PVC has a cost and we are on a budget.



We already had metal stakes in the ground to hold our tomato plants up. I got the idea of tying rope across the stakes to support the plastic sheets.


In this way I can permanently put the plastic sheets over the rope and tie it in place during the day to keep it off the plants. Then at night I can unroll the plastic to cover the plants. I use more stakes to keep the ends of the plastic down in case the wind blows.


Simple and affordable hoop house alternative


Now it only takes me a few minutes each morning to uncover the plants after the sun rises. At night it takes a few minutes to cover the plants to protect them from the cold frost.


Our tomatoes are finally starting to ripen. The plants that survived the first frost are still alive and growing. We can safely protect our tomatoes down to 28 degrees F so far with no damage.


Growing tomatoes with freezing cold nights using modified hoop house


You could use just about anything that yo have on hand to do this job. I used stakes because we already had them in place. You could use sticks, bamboo, metal pipe or anything else you can find to hold the rope in place.


I also had the rope on hand. But you can get rope at the dollar store if you need some on a budget. Heavy wire would also do the job to keep the plastic off your plants.


I call this my modified hoop house. The setup looks like a pup tent with an A shape when it is done. And it works. The best part is that it was affordable.


You can watch today's video here: Simple Cheap Hoop House Alternative & Extend Growing Season


While you are over there please subscribe to my YouTube channel and follow our daily videos as we strive to become self sufficient and off the grid on a budget.

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Troy Reid


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