A friend recently posted to his urban gardening blog about participating in a mini hoop house building class.
For the uninitiated, UW-Extension describes a hoop house as follows: “Metal or plastic pipes are bent into a series of hoops that are stuck into the ground or attached to raised beds. The hoops are covered with four to six millimeter polyethylene that is buried in the soil at the base of the hoops. Hoop houses can extend the growing season by an additional six to eight weeks.” They range in scale from the miniature version that my friend built to big enough to support a major agricultural enterprise, and everywhere in between.
If you visit the website of a Wisconsin CSA, there’s a good chance you’ll read about and/or see a picture of a hoop house — or “greenhouse,” as some folks seem to call the big ones. (To get technical, Clark County Extension of Washington State University notes that “unlike a greenhouse, a hoophouse is not usually heated in the winter.”)
Hoop houses are a great way for gardeners and farmers to harness the power of the sun to extend the growing season here in the Midwest, and as such, they’re one use of plastic that I think I’m OK with.