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NMSU Greenhouse Workshop Highlights Hoop House Construction

LAS CRUCES - Southern New Mexico growers can learn how to build inexpensive, solar-heated greenhouses, known as hoop houses or cold frames, at a hands-on workshop Oct. 24-25 in Las Cruces.



Del Jimenez, an agriculture specialist with New Mexico State University, will lead a two-day workshop on how to build low-cost, solar-heated greenhouses, known as cold frames or hoop houses, Oct. 24-25 in Las Cruces. (10/18/2005) (NMSU Agricultural Communications Photo by J. Victor Espinoza)

"Participants will actually build a 17- by 34-foot hoop house during the workshop," said John White, Doņa Ana County horticulture agent with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service. "We want growers to get direct, hands-on experience, so that they'll learn enough to go home and build one on their own."

The sessions, which cost $25, will be led by instructor Del Jimenez, an agriculture specialist with NMSU's Rural Agricultural Improvement and Public Affairs Project (RAIPAP) based in Alcalde.

Cold frames, also known as hoop houses, offer a low-cost alternative for small-scale growers who often can't afford to build fully equipped greenhouses, White said. Generally, greenhouses include heaters, coolers and irrigation and fertilization systems. They can cost up to $12,000, depending on optional features.

Building a simple hoop house or cold frame costs $200 to $500, he said. It is much smaller and lacks temperature controls and other operating systems.

"Typically, construction is limited to a basic frame with plastic covering," White said.

Among the benefits of hoop houses are an earlier start to the growing season and the ability to grow plants into the fall, he said.

A seminar on elements of hoop house construction will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Oct. 24 at the NMSU Extension office at 530 N. Church Street. There will be discussions about construction materials and how to plan greenhouse dimensions.

Actual construction of the demonstration hoop house will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 25 at Mysterious Horizons Farm, located at 3630 Sparrow Road, 2 miles west of Las Cruces.

For more information about the workshop, or if you are an individual with a disability who is in need of an auxiliary aid or service to participate, contact White in advance at (505) 525-6649 or whjohn@nmsu.edu