The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Quick hoop snow damage

effect of moderate snow load on quick hoop

Our quick hoops took some small damage last night when a moderate snow load started weighing down the fabric and pulling up one of the stakes.

It might be necessary to decrease the gap between supports so it can handle the snow.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I was actually pretty impressed with how the quick hoops stood up to the storm. Two or three inches of wet snow didn't affect three of the quick hoops at all, and this one probably would have been unaffected if I'd used a wooden stake instead of the little metal tent stake I stuck in the ground. And even though it pulled up one end, the fabric didn't collapse onto the plants!
Comment by anna Mon Feb 20 18:45:18 2012

That's about what my quick hoops looked like 2-3 times after a 3-4 inch snowfall and I've discovered a couple of things I plan to do different in the future.

  1. Cover with plastic (I did this in the first place and it helps a lot but then I uncovered it on a sunny day and it got snowed on 2 days later)
  2. Smaller gap between supports
  3. Buy PVC pipe for stronger supports. Right now I have fiberglass supports I bought with my cover from Gardener's Supply. They work great but they have a tendancy to bend over because they are only about a 1/4 inch thick.
Comment by John Amrhein Tue Feb 21 06:42:15 2012
John --- Plastic covering is Eliot Coleman's official suggestion. I've been reading up on wintering quick hoops, and Johnny's sells benders that allows you to make the hoops out of metal pipes. They've sold them very far north, and they seem to work very well. Not sure if it's worth the expense and hassle, though, if you live further south.
Comment by anna Tue Feb 21 09:44:48 2012
I wonder if a straight pvc support running across the top and tying them all together would increase the strength of the whole "structure."
Comment by Brian Tue Feb 21 21:05:59 2012
Brian --- I could see that working! I'm not sure we'd need it, though, with a few simpler alterations. I guess we'll have to wait until next year to experiment --- I suspect this might be our last snow.
Comment by anna Wed Feb 22 08:07:48 2012

You only need to strengthen the outer hoops on both ends. Because unlike the other hoops, they are asymetrically loaded. Does that need further explanation?

Hammer a peg into the ground in the centerline of the hoops, about one or two hoop widths out of the outer hoop. Tie some string to that and tie the other end to the top of the arc of the outer hoop. That should help prevent it from collapsing inward. The peg should be perpendicular to the direction of the string.

Comment by Roland_Smith Wed Feb 22 15:07:49 2012

Excellent point, Roland! I hadn't thought about how the outer hoops are the ones most in jeopardy.

If I upgraded the pegs I already have in the ground in the location you're talking about, I'll bet they could do double duty as an attachment point for a guy wire for the outer hoops and for attaching the fabric.

Comment by anna Wed Feb 22 15:27:26 2012

Thinking along this line led me to another lines of thought and possible improvements.

Use three wires along the whole length of the quick hoops. One on both sides connecting all the ends of the hoops, and on connecting all hoops on the top. At both ends, the three wires come together at a peg.

This way, starting with one peg you could string out the whole quick-hoop skeleton. Peg down the second end and it stands. Peg down the bottom wires at a couple of places and it won't blow away.

Fixing say a woven net to the hoops would support the flimsy row cover material better and possibly keep deer out of your vegetables.

Comment by Roland_Smith Thu Feb 23 17:02:46 2012

I suspect even a single line that goes down the center of the quick hoop system would help a lot. Not sure if we really need it, though, and that would be another piece to put together and take down when I move them around. I think that probably should be my first step next winter, though, if we get more snow and it's problematic.

Stay tuned --- one of these days soon I'm going to post some photos that a reader sent me of a quick hoop supported with remesh.

Comment by anna Fri Feb 24 09:38:12 2012

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