High Tunnel–Phase One

ground posts are in, 14 total, 7 on each side. 2 rows 20 feet apart and spaced 6 feet apart. Thanks to Paco and Longhouse Farm's loan, they are sunk 4 feet into the ground
pound, pound, pound
the hoop bender on loan from Longhouse Farm
using the hoop benderhoop bender makes this part a breeze
Phase one is almost complete.  Hoops are done and bolted together.  We need to insert them into ground posts and bolt those in as well (insurance).  Then 3 purlins (think of these as the spine that holds all the ribs together) will be connected to provide strength and support. One will run right down the middle and one on each side (about halfway between the center and the ground post).
each hoop consists of three 10'6" chain link fence top rails that are then bolted together, there will be 7 hoops

High Tunnel Dreams

Here we are at Home Depot purchasing chain link fence top rail for our latest farm venture–a high tunnel.  For those of you who don’t know a high tunnel is a greenhouse-like structure made out of “hoops” (also known as a hoop house) and covered with transparent greenhouse plastic.  Our tunnel will allow us to extend our garden harvest into late fall and starting in early spring.  Crops such as hardy greens can be grown until early January and hot weather crops can be started earlier to get a jump on the season.  This is not quite what we are building, but has some great pictures to give you an idea of what we are going to be doing: http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/cornucop/msg0508291217612.html

We have looked at several local ones (thank you Wade family and the gals at Longhouse Farm!) and have gotten comfortable with the how-to of it.  Lucky for me,  I have a husband that is a natural builder and very precise.  I would need a minor miracle to be able to build this myself.  he can build.  I can grow.  We are a good team.  Looks like we are shooting for a structure 20 feet wide by 36 long.  This is what we bought (about $600, so far):

32  pieces of 10 foot 1 3/8 top rail

14 pieces of 6 foot 1 5/8 fence posts

40 or so  2″ x 1/4″ bolts and nuts

15 or so 2.5″ x 1/4″ bolts and nuts

Nancy and Barb from Longhouse Farm are loaning us their hoop bender and their post driver.  http://www.longhousefarm.com/  Thanks!

The fence posts will be sunk into the ground at 6′ intervals–7 on each side.  Then the top rails (3 for each hoop) will be bent and inserted into each corresponding pair of fence posts. After all the “ribs” are done, purlins will be added.  The purlin is the backbone of the structure.  we will run three the length of the structure–one down the middle and one on each side.  Where the purlin meets the hoop we need a strong, secure connection to hold the hoops and purlins in place during all kinds of weather.  We  have already ordered and received “cross connectors” from Farmtek for just this purpose. They are designed to hold the intersection of the two 1 3/8 rails together.  Check them out:  http://www.farmtek.com/farm/supplies/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10052&storeId=10001&langId=-1&division=FarmTek&productId=267066

This will complete phase one.  Let’s see how long it takes………..