Can you recommend some resources for hoophouse and high tunnel production?
J.K.IndianaAnswer: I am pleased to provide you with information on hoophouses and high tunnels for vegetable production.Please see the ATTRA publications Season Extension Techniques for Market Gardeners, Organic Greenhouse Tomato Production, Compost Heated Greenhouses, Root Zone Heating for Greenhouse Crops, and Solar Greenhouses Resource List. Please refer to the ATTRA publication that details high-tunnel and greenhouse information, titled “Season Extension Techniques for Market Gardeners.” This publication has detailed information on using high tunnels for season extension on your farm as well as rudimentary plans on constructing them in the appendices. In your region, a hoop house would be most effective as a season extension tool in the winter, early spring, and late fall. Over wintering cool season crops, such as lettuce, radishes, and other greens, can be planted in there or you can extend your warm-season crops further into the late fall or earlier in the late springearly summer.Generally hoop houses, or high tunnels, are simple unheated “greenhouse-like” structures that provide less control of environmental conditions than full greenhouses at substantially less cost. They are usually covered with a single layer of plastic and are ventilated only through roll-up sides. A typical high tunnel does not have a heating system, but it might be necessary in your climate. Drip irrigation is often used in high tunnels. The production system may be in-ground culture, or pots can be placed on the ground or on benches. The hoops for the high tunnel are often placed approximately 4 feet apart. Many plans call for using 2″ PVC for the hoops, which is a more economical alternative, but they tend to be less rigid and more susceptible in areas of high winds. A narrow width of the building lends itself well to roll-up-side ventilation (approximately 14 feet or so). Tunnels and greenhouses with vertical sides which rise up before curving provide better side to side ventilation and allow for better use of growing spaces along the edges inside. In order to have vertical sides, however, you must use fabricated pipe, or bend the pipe yourself. High tunnels are commonly sold in units of 48 or 98 feet long, but they can be ordered in any length. The cost of a 14-by 96 foot unit of single poly, roll-up sides and including end-walls and doors, and drip tape is about $2000-$3000, depending on the construction materials.A great on-line resource for constructing and utilizing high-tunnels is http://www.hightunnels.org. If you have internet access I highly recommend giving this website a look. This excellent on-line resource has three different plans on how to build simple hoop houses as well as cultural information on growing certain vegetables and fruits in them. It seems to be the best, comprehensive, and farmer-friendly resource about high tunnels on the internet. Recommended High Tunnels BooksThe Hoophouse Handbook, by Lynn Byczynski, 2003, 60 pagesGrowing for MarketPO Box 3747Lawrence KS 66046800-307-8949 High Tunnels, by Ted Blomgren, Tracy Frisch, and Steve Moore, May 2007Published by the University of Vermont Center for Sustainable AgricultureUVM Center for Sustainable Agriculture106 High Point Center, Suite 300Colchester, VT 05446Phone: (802) 656-5459.Recommended High Tunnels SuppliersHaygrove Tunnels USA116 Trail Road NorthElizabethtown, PA 17022Toll-Free Telephone: 866-HAYGROVEFarmTek1440 Field of Dreams WayDyersville, IA 52040Toll-Free Fax 1-800-457-8887Recommended Irrigation SuppliersRain-FloCall for a catalog. Pennsylvania company.717-445-6976DripWorks190 Sanhedrin CircleWillits, CA 95490800-522-3747Vegetable Growing BooksGrubinger, Vernon. 1999. Sustainable Vegetable Production from Start-up to Market. Natural Resource, Agriculture and Engineering Service. Ithaca, NY. NRAES Cooperative ExtensionPO Box 4557Ithaca, New York 14852-4557Phone: (607) 255-7654Four Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables From Your Home Garden All Year Long. Eliot Coleman. Chelsea Green, 1992, second edition 1999.Chelsea Green Publishing85 North Main Street, Suite 120White River Jct., Vermont 05001.800-639-4099ResourcesHow to build a high tunnel. Amanda Ferguson. Department of Horticulture, University of Kentucky.Hoop House Construction for New Mexico: 12-ft. x 40-ft. Hoop House. Del Jimenez, Ron Walser and Reynaldo Torres. New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico.