Thursday, November 26, 2009

Shade-houses are cool

Last summer our veggie patch was absolutely smashed by the heat. I did however manage to save a few tomato bushes and a bit of corn with a last minute jury rigged shade-house. I promised myself then that I would be ready for it this year and set to work researching hoop-house design on the nett. This site had a pretty neat looking set-up so I decided that this was the model for me. You will find a full construction manual and parts list there so I won't go into any detail here. I did however make a few minor changes to my hoop-house to accommodate my needs. Rather than run the shade cloth along the length of the structure I have it across and have fastened it with butterfly clips and ropes, tarpaulin fashion. I have done it this way so I can remove it easily in the winter to give me more light. It may even be possible to cover it with some greenhouse plastic and make it into a large cloche.

This shade-house was built to cover my new beds so post spacing was about 2.1 meters. This is not shade cloth width so a little bit of bodgie work was need to cover it. If I was starting from scratch I would make the whole thing cloth width modules, i.e. posts at 1.8 centres and a bed set out similar to the wicking bed layout here.

I have also left the structure relativity open to allow easy entry and exit of pollinators. One end is covered with shade cloth, the other is a bean frame. And as the sides are a simple tie-down set up I can easily work the beds from the outside. As the cloth is lose over the main part of the frame I can if needed slip some extra cloth under it for added shade as required. My hoop-house is 6.5 meters long by 3 meters wide and a tad under 2.4 meters high at the centre. The cut length of my poly-pipe was 6.5 meters and the whole thing was adjusted for evenness when I put the battens on. These battens come in about 6 meter lengths but are easily joined by simply overlapping and pop-riveting. Cost wise, not too bad at about $200 for the whole she-bang but I did get some of the poly free and I had a bit of spare shade-cloth and a few star pickets hanging around. 
So there you have it, one cool shade-house thanks to the folks at Easy-Grow Vegetables, I do like it when people are keen to share neat ideas.


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