been thinking about a hoop house made with light fabric which is waterproofed with beeswax. i am
looking for an alternative to plastic. nyone ever heard of or experienced such a thing?
Check this out: http://www.veggiecare.com/
I plan to replace my greenhouse plastic with an extra-strong row cover/remay type cloth. First I have to say, I really like my light-reflecting but non-burning plastic from Greenhouse Bob in South Dakota. He has a great site, with novel ideas, including recycled tires, and very cool rainwater gathering/hoophouse irrigation systems. http://www.northerngreenhouse.com/about_us.htm
The plastic lasted many years, and I roll it up on top of my against-the-garage lean-to hoophouse for the summer, so my hoophouse soil gets rain all growing season, and I can regulate the heat by lifting the corners when I need to, since I didn't make my vents big enough. (1/3 of your south surface area is the ratio for vent size I have since read.) I'm using large hardware store clamps to secure it on the pvc pipes at each end. (And the structure is supported inside against snow loads.)
BUT, the cons: it can get too dry in winter, and with spring it can overheat or get too cold as I don't open/forget to shut things. Too high maintenance for the likes of me, without a better automatic venting and irrigation system. And that's too high tech for the likes of me, at least at the moment.
SO, I am intrigued by this strong, greenhouse-grade material sold by nice folks at the first link above. He says it protects to 25 degrees, which I imagine is the same for plastic? Anyone know? But it will release excess heat, and let in some precipitation, so it sounds like a healthier, lower maintenance system to me. I grew some potato-onions under lights (cold frames) this winter, and baked them before it was even officially spring; most of them are bouncing back, but again, how nice it will be to have a self-regulating material instead of the rigid plastic polycarbonate. I may put my polycarbonate lights on top, too, in the worst of winter, to perhaps get more root growth.
As far as is a greenhouse stupid: no, but I am. I put mine where I probably don't get the best light in winter when the sun is lower, since there wasn't anyplace else to put one. My whole little property has very little full sun, so my property is stupid, too. Yet I eats real good anyway, and my stupid hoophouse winters over a few greens and sets magenta spreen lambsquarters and mustard and parcel weeks ahead of my yard, despite the desert conditions created by my neglect. (I love those self-seeders!) I can plant out my winter sown ( www.wintersown.org ) bok choy and cruciferous things while, well, it's still winter and eat the crap out of them by spring. And it often feeds me cherry tomatoes til Christmas. I wish it could be bigger, and a solar greenhouse with thermal mass, insulated walls and soil bed etc. But it still brings me much happiness. I think I would always want to be able to open up my greenhouse to the rain an the air, though.
Another very cool greenhouse design I read in Mother Earth News but can't find again, was by a guy who accidentally discovered that doing waist high raised beds creates a cold sink in the paths, resulting in dramatically warmer soil in the raised beds and 4 season growth for him in some ungodly climate.