Baseboard Options for Organic Farmers with Greenhouses

Baseboards are a primary greenhouse component. They are used to tie together all of the ground posts and hoops with a horizontal member, and baseboards also end up being what your roll-up side tube will rest on when in the down position. If you don't have roll-up sides, the baseboard is the component that you wiggle wire channel will attach to and where your greenhouse plastic will ultimately be secured. Regardless of the reasons your hoophouse should have a baseboard, there is a real issue that organic growers battle with when trying to decide what to make their baseboard out of. 

As the name of this component might indicate, most of the greenhouses, hoop houses, and high tunnels out there have some form of lumber running the full length of the structure at ground level. The lumber is where this component derived its name, but since this feature is in contact with the ground it is usually the first thing to rot / need replaced on a greenhouse. This is a problem, and it has led many farmers to install a treated lumber base board as a part of their structure. This, however, is not okay when it comes to organic compliance

So, what is an organic grower supposed to do in order to install the greenhouse features needed while still complying with regulations to maintain their organic certification standards? Really, there are three routes to take. Here is a quick rundown on what potential materials could be used in place of a treated lumber baseboard:

  1. A more durable untreated lumber. More specifically, a type of lumber that is able to withstand more water and weather without rotting. I am referring to Cedar, as the specific variety of lumber that doesn't rot as fast as the typical untreated lumber. With Cedar lumber the material will remain in usable condition for more than a handful of years, often 15 years or more. Two barriers to this material is that it can be particularly difficult to source depending on where you are located, and the second barrier is cost, as it is more costly than easily sourced lumber.
  2. Recycled plastic lumber is another option, and this option is often sold in many hardware stores. This material looks very similar to lumber, but it is comprised of plastic. This plastic will last for a very long time. One thing to keep in mind with this material is that it is not as thick as a standard cut of lumber; the thickness of the material may or may not matter to your structure installation process.
  3. Hat Channel / Metal Baseboard is another long term option for your baseboard. Metal baseboards are the primary baseboard we us on our hoop house structures at Tunnel Vision Hoops LLC. The metal lasts a long time, it is easy to install, and each individual unit is compact and stackable. The benefits of a material like this is that it doesn't rot, and since the metal will be (it should be!) galvanized it won't rust either. A metal baseboard should last a very long time, and each individual unit is generally very light. Outside of the weight of the material, Hat Channel has a thin lip at its top which allows a roll-up side tube to roll over a bit of the material before coming to its resting spot. 

If you are interested in learning about how we install metal baseboards, below is a video that shows the process for installing the Hat Channel variety of baseboard:

Regardless of the type of baseboard you use for your structure, organic farmers and gardeners that want to maintain their certification standing should take note that the type of material used at ground level can ultimately affect the soil, and it can affect certification. Be sure to remember this in order to avoid any issues with your organic farming certification. 

Interested in buying metal Hat Channel, feel free to send us a message at [email protected]