The second most frequently asked question on this year’s Carolina Farm Stewardship Annual Farm Tour was “ How did you guys construct the rollup sides for your hoophouses”?
  
 We have seen rollup side construction vary from manually tying the sides up to electrical motors that are controlled by a thermostat.  We wanted something in the middle and Mark was in charge of that.  Let me briefly mention that before Mark landed in the computer world, he welded steam pipe on large construction sites.  He is a certified pipe welder.  I do not need to tell you guys how handy it is to have a welder on a farm.  Our rollup side construction does involve some welding.  I will let Mark explain from here.
    
For rollup hoophouse sides our goals were to keep it simple, inexpensive and use materials readily available from the local hardware stores.  I wish I could claim designing this system from the ground up, but instead it is a combination of designs modified from several web sites and other local farmers.
    
Our hoophouses are 48-foot long quonset style from Atlas.  This system works well on these houses and even better on straight-wall houses. The sides are easily rolled up by one person on houses up to 96 feet in length.  Our quonset style houses have hip boards attached 5 feet above ground level, running the length of house, to which wiggle wire base is secured.  When the houses are covered, the green house film is attached to this hip board with the remaining plastic left long, this is what is used for the roll up side.  
    
Materials: 1 ¼ in schedule 40 PVC pipe, 1 3/8 inch chain-link fence top rail with a swag on one end, chain-link fence corner post (we use 7-foot, also available in 10-foot for larger houses), four 1½ inch x 3 inch pipe nipples, four 2 inch x 3 inch pipe nipples, four chain-link fence corner elbows, numerous    ¾ in self-tapping screws. The schedule 40 PVC pipe should   be split in half length ways.  I’ve found a table saw to be the best means to accomplish this task.  The pipe nipples should be welded together to form a “tee” , using one 1 ½ x 3 inch nipple and one 2 inch x 3 inch nipple.
    
The chain-link fence tops are put together along the length of the house as close to the  base board as possible.  The chain-link fence tops go under the greenhouse film. Insure there is    

2 feet or so of chain-link fence top extending beyond the house.  Place the split 1¼ inch PVC pipe over the greenhouse film and over the chain-length fence top, sandwiching the film between the chain-link fence top and PVC pipe.  Using a cordless drill attach the PVC pipe to the chain-link fence top with the ¾ inch self-tapping screws.  The screws are long enough to penetrate halfway into the pipe but will not come out the other side. Note the swag joins on the chain-link fence top and insure to place a screw through its location as you are attaching the PVC pipe, this will insure the chain-link fence tops do not pull apart.  The chain-link fence top lengths can be modified with a hacksaw or other similar tool if needed.
    
Install the welded nipple tee by sliding the 1½ nipple over the chain-link fence top, located approximately 12-18 inches from the house.  Insert the chain-link post through the 2 inch nipple on the welded tee and drive the chain-link post into the ground with a maul. The position of the post should be such so as the side is rolled up it tracks along the side of the house. As our houses are quonset style, the position of the post is somewhat zenlike, but it works quite well. This system works a bit better on straight wall houses.  Your soil type will determine  how far the fence post is driven into ground. For our 48-foot houses   and our soil, 2 feet driven into the ground suffices. Your “mileage” may vary.  Concrete could be poured around the post to add stability.
    
To create the rollup handle, attach one of the chain-link fence elbows to the chain-link fence top. Then add 12-18 inches of chain-link fence top into the other side of the elbow. Next add an additional elbow, and last another 18 inches of chain-link fence top, thereby creating a crank/handle system.  We’ve found the handles should be flush to the ground when the sides are all the way down.  We use large cinder blocks at each end to hold the sides down during wind.                          

Your location may require a different anchor system.  A hole is drilled all the way through the 1½ inch portion of the welded tee and chain-link fence top.  When the side is rolled up, a pin can be inserted through this hole, which sets the height the side is rolled up.  A 20- penny nail works fine.  The handle system/pin system is used only at one end of the house.  The other end of the house only requires the chain-link fence post and welded tee be installed.  For windy areas, nylon strapping or drip tape can be installed to keep the sides from blowing out. We have not needed to do this for our area.
    
For more information on all things hoophouses/hightunnels you may want to investigate http://www.hightunnels.org/

Please mark your calendars for the July 17th Southeast Regional Meeting.  We will be convening at Sybil and Gary Calders’ Sunrise to Sunset Gardens in Clayton, North Carolina.  Program and registration form can be obtained from the ASCFG website.  You can also call me at (919) 452-8987 if you have any questions.
    
By the way, the most frequently asked question on the farm tour was “How do you guys keep the deer out of the gardens?”.  That is another article!  See you in Clayton.