When we started the tomato, bell pepper and jalapeno pepper seedlings in egg cartons several weeks ago, I knew transplanting them would be necessary. The young seedlings would not stand a chance if planted directly in the garden with the West Texas wind. Transplanting them into small pots was not an option – I have no space for so many little pots! So, we decided to make a hoop house. If you are not familiar with a hoop house, it is a miniature green house. They may be purchased complete or as a kit. But, like most things, making it yourself is much more economical. Ours cost under $20!
We had selected a small 10 x 12 area of the garden and placed a black tarp over it to begin warming the soil. The soil in that area was hoed and compost added. Using a spoon, we carefully scooped the seedlings out of the egg cartons. Separating the seedling (very carefully), we planted them about 4 -6 inches apart.
As we transplanted, the seedlings were also well watered.
Pieces of 1 inch PVP pipe (scrap from a previous project), cut into 12 inch lengths, were sunk into the soil at the desired width of the hoop house. These provide stability and help anchor the hoop house down in the wind.
The frame of the hoop house is 4 pieces of 1/2 inch flexible electrical conduit pipe (cheaper than water pipe and UV stable) placed 3 feet apart. These pieces were bent the desired width and placed inside the 1 inch pipe. Another piece of scrap PVC pipe was zip tied to the top of the hoops the length of the house. Bottomless buckets were placed around the seedlings to provide a bit of shade.
Next, 3.5 ml plastic was put over the hoop frame. We started with each end and taped the plastic to the frame. Once the ends were secure, the top plastic was taped to either end of the frame. One long side was left unsecured for ventilation.
We learned however, that packing tape dries out to quickly and does not hold for long. So, John made clips from 1″ PVC by cutting a 1/6th section out which allowed it to snap over the plastic sheeting and frame.
The bottom edges were then buried under dirt to secure them.
I am watering through the side every 2 to 3 days.
So far, our little seedlings are growing very well!