Sunday, June 16, 2013

Hoop house gutters

Well hello there.  My updates here have been sporadic of late, but this seemed like a project that might be of interest to a few folks out there.

In the pendulum of weather that is our new reality, last year's extremely early and hot spring, followed by severe drought, has been replaced by a cool, late season-start and tons of rain.  It's now the 2nd wettest year for Madison on record!  It's been a frustrating whiplash year for many gardeners (and farmers) in Wisconsin, but thanks to the hoop house and raised beds I haven't been too far behind, and I'm just enjoying the lush landscape.

We might bump this out a few inches for clearance on light-rain days.  I can't decide if the barrel or flexible bucket is best yet.

So with last year's lack of rain, the hoop got watered along with the rest of the garden. Our water set-up is awkward (we have eventual plans to remedy it); it's hard to be motivated to drag out the hose when the only spot you need to water is 10 x 12 and in the farthest uphill corner from the faucet.  So I've been experimenting with catching rainwater on the roll-up sides of the hoop, and it worked well enough that I invested $4 in a length of gutter this weekend.  The gutter is simply screwed into the hip board on one end, and attached with a simple bracket at the other.

Last evening it rained for the first time since we installed it, and we ran out mid-storm to watch the progress.  Success:  even in a short downpour we easily caught 4-6 gallons while we were watching, and it took me a few minutes to fill up my big watering can and distribute the bounty.  I think my plants will be happy with real rain too:  we're on city water and besides the cost, I am glad to avoid chlorine and other additives.

The roll-up sides are just secured with bungees to keep them out of the way, and with the gutter attached to the hip board we avoided putting any fasteners through the actual plastic.


If this rainy weather keeps up, and we continue to have success, I'll probably put one on the other side as well.  If you wanted to get fancy, you could install downspouts (and possibly a drip hose?) to redirect it.  For now, I'm planning on watering when it rains anyway, so I don't think we'll have a storage issue, but it might be fun to have a retention barrel with a few water hyacinths.

The simplest of brackets...

It's the simplest of ideas: I keep thinking I wish I had done it last year, and then I remember that it never rained!

4 comments:

  1. What type of plastic do you use on the hoop house? We bought basic plastic at a box store this year and it became brittle and broke up in the wind by the end of the summer.

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    1. It's 6-mil UV treated greenhouse film. I've used box-store plastic for low tunnels with good success, but our kit came with the "real" stuff and there's a big difference.

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  2. Hi there - I just found your blog as we are working to install gutters on our hoophouse & trying to figure out the best way to go about it. How have your gutters worked for you? Do you leave them up in winter? It's seems like such a good idea to catch water from the hoophouse roof, I'm surprised we haven't found many examples of this. Would appreciate any tips/tricks you have to share!

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    1. We took it off for the winter, mostly because we wanted to roll down the sides to close it up for the season. Also we have quite a lot of snow here, so in late winter I just use that for watering. I was surprised too there wasn't a lot of info out there, though I had seen references to gutters--especially British books. If you search for polytunnel (that's their word for hoophouse) you'll have a little more luck. Finally I just decided to try it (funny how that works) and this was a pretty fast/cheap solution.

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