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Hoop house questions for Zone 5a/b...

Posted by pyro321boom (My Page) on
Sun, Nov 11, 12 at 20:30

Reposting this from another forum as told to do by another user:

Hello. I have been been organic gardening for about 6 years now and decided to try a hoop house this winter. We are drinking a lot of green smoothies nowadays and can benefit from having fresh greens grow all winter long. I built a small lean-to last winter where the temps got up to 100 some days because the auto vent failed on me. But sill, our kale plants grew to the top and bent over and we had a great crop. My hoop house this year is directly over my garden and is 12x18x7 so I have a lot more room. I already have kale and chard planted, but I would like to know this late in the season if there is anything else that I can put in there to harvest during the winter months. Anything from seed that will grow fast enough? Or anywhere on the net that I can buy plants to put in there? I know it's very late and everything should have been started a long time ago, but I was just curious. If not, then I guess all I have will be about 40 kale plants and 20 chard which is not a bad thing, just was hoping for some variety since I had the space. Any help or comments would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Hoop house questions for Zone 5a/b...

  • Posted by glib 5.5 (My Page) on
    Sun, Nov 11, 12 at 22:27

Arugula will make it, and germinates in very cold soil. If you had the opportunity to get garlic bulbils, you could plant those, and eat the shoots. It would help to know your zone, but the others I would try are corn salad and miner lettuce.


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RE: Hoop house questions for Zone 5a/b...

Spinach will germinate at less than 50 F soil temperature. Are you heating the soil or inside air? It is so late for planting without heat and the days are so short it takes forever for a plant to grow. Mizuna is cold hearty but I have no information on soil temperature and germination as I have only grown it for a year. You do know that Elliot Coleman has the book "Four Season Harvest". I learned a lot from it about cold frame usage.

Curt


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RE: Hoop house questions for Zone 5a/b...

You can plant mache and more spinach, but be prepared to put row cover over the little babes to double up on winter protection when it gets really cold.

Expect things to hit a holding pattern soon, with little new growth coming on due to low light more than cold temps. Around here the greenhouse growers wait for better light to return in late Feb before cranking things up again.


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RE: Hoop house questions for Zone 5a/b...

If you had transplants, planting them in there now will bring lettuce around the first of January.

We grow all our transplants and have flats of them sitting in the high tunnel and get them planted when space comes open. I still have 15 flats of lettuce, Bok Choy, Napa Cabbage, Mustards, Tatsoi, Kohlarbi (new for me), cilantro, and other asian greens to transplant.

Jay


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RE: Hoop house questions for Zone 5a/b...

  • Posted by gjcore 5 South Aurora Co. (My Page) on
    Mon, Nov 12, 12 at 20:13

Beets might start from seed this time of year. I use them mostly for the leaf during the winter months. Mustards and carrots might also start from seeds now. I really like the Japanese mustard I started growing this year.

I have very strong sunlight through most of the winter months in my coldframes and everything seems to do pretty good. The few weeks around the winter solstice growth seems to slow down.


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RE: Hoop house questions for Zone 5a/b...

Thanks everyone for the input. Along with the chard and kale, I've decided to take some of your suggestions and start some spinach, mesculin mix, arugula, mizuna, and some herbs that I already had growing like cilantro, parsley and rosemary. A friend might get some other starts of winter veggies too, but won't know till tomorrow. It's going to be tight in there, but I'm gong to pack as full as I can. Any comments or suggestions about my hoop house are welcomed too. Thanks again!


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RE: Hoop house questions for Zone 5a/b...

Another photo...


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RE: Hoop house questions for Zone 5a/b...

Nice small tunnel, I wish more people would put small tunnels up like this in their own back yard.

A couple of questions/advice. How are you venting it? It can get really warm on sunny winter days in there. Also, it looks very wet. Be careful with water and not venting leaf mold can be a problem.

I would suggest you make some raised beds in there. Nothing more than piling up the dirt. This way you can define your walkways and not compact your soil as much.

Also, They warmest place in the tunnel is in the center. In the winter, you may think about planting one large center bed and have walkways on the outside. I don't know how tall your sidewalls are, or if it would be possible.

Finally, get some row cover to cover up things on the coldest nights. You can grow all winter long!

Here is one of my winter high tunnels. The last row of tomatoes are just coming out this weekend.

Photobucket

Jay


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RE: Hoop house questions for Zone 5a/b...

Wow Jay, that looks great! I would love to have a high tunnel that big, but unfortunately on a city lot, that would not be possible. Yes, I have an automatic vent, it is just not installed yet....probably do that tomorrow once I get ahold of some plexiglass. I didn't attach it correctly to my lean-to last winter and It did'nt open some days bringing the inside temp up to 100+ when the outside was 40s and sunny. Plants got fried, but luckily they all came back. The piece of plexiglass I'm looking at will be 18"x24" and go at the end of the tunnel in the picture. Do you think that size would suffice for this hoop house? Secondly, it rained the heavily the day before I put the plastic on so that's probably why it looks wet. I'm sure it will dry out in the next week or so. I've never done raised beds before and I'm not sure that I understand the benefit. This hoop house is placed directly over my garden, so in the spring, I will just take it down and continue to garden. If I put raised beds in, I would just have to take those down too. Also, there's the extra cost of lumber and soil and I'm trying to use what I have since I'm on a budget. What about some scrap lumber layed out to designate rows? The height of the center is 7", but i don't know the height of the side walls exactly. I put chard on one side and kale on the other, both are very cold hardy from what I understand and wouldn't be affected by the coldness of the sides I'm guessing. I like your suggestion of having one big bed in the center, but I'm trying to cram as much as possible in there and I think that would eat up too much real estate. Lastly, I do have some row cover, but I will probably save it for the spinach, herbs and lettuces and leave the chard an kale uncovered. P.S. are you in a freezing zone? if so, how do you keep everything watered? The garden hose would freeze if I left it out all winter so I'm thinking I'm going to have to do it by buckets which will stink.


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RE: Hoop house questions for Zone 5a/b...

To answer your questions:

Is 18 by 24 big enough? I am not sure, you could also just leave your door open during the day and close it at night.

Raised beds I am talking about are just 4 to 6 inches high, basically just pile up the dirt. Here is a picture of some of my outside raised for onions. All the dirt came from digging out the walkways.

Photobucket

Row cover, I wouldn't worry about the spinach, it is very cold tolerant. Good idea on the Chard and Kale.

I live in North Central Kansas, 5b-6a. We have freezing weather from October til May.

I water everything with drip irrigation. In regards to your garden hose, just drain it after you use it in the winter. We run hoses to the buildings to water. To drain, just unhook both ends and hold up the hose and walk the length of the hose holding the hose shoulder height. Take your time and all the water will drain out, problem solved. The next time you use the hose, it will be empty and ready to use. Leave your buckets in the garage.

Jay


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RE: Hoop house questions for Zone 5a/b...

pyro Nice little house mine is 8ft x 8ft and will be enlarged to 8ft x 16 foot for next year. You will love it the wind protection alone is worth it. My favorite place on a frosty sunny morning to bask with a cup of coffee. I do see what you mean by having room for more plants. Nice job of putting it together. Jay you inspired me with all your post Hurrah!

Curt


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RE: Hoop house questions for Zone 5a/b...

Nice photos of both. This will be our first winter with an unheated high tunnel. Since it's a distance to the house, my husband ran a water line and installed a yard hydrant. I still have to empty the hose but the hydrant is inside the tunnel. When it is shut off, the water empties out of the pipe. Yes, it was a lot of work to dig the require trench but it gave him a good project to do this summer and we have a backhoe. This puts a water spigot right next to my vegetable garden so we no longer have to run hose across the driveway.


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RE: Hoop house questions for Zone 5a/b...

Just thought I'd post an update on the hoop house. I've made some raised beds for the greens, and was actually able to germinate some plants from seed which I am very happy with so far. So the final list is Kale, Chard, Arugula, F1 Spinach, Mesclun Mix, Mizuna Mustard, Claytonia, M�ch�, Watercress, Chickweed, Green Onions, Red Onions, Napoli Carrots, Bok Choy, and about 1 of every different type of herb that we use. Most of the seeds were bought from Seeds Of Change. Some of it is an experiment, others are cold hardy to zone 5 or even 4, per your suggestions. I'll try to post updates through the winter and let you know what makes it. I also have about 10 milk jugs of water painted black around the perimeter and hoping to get at least another 30. I'm not sure if I should be placing them more in the middle of the hoop house or if I should keep them around the edges for one more barrier for the cold to get through at night. That kind of make sense to me as that's primarily the reason I put the kale and Chard around the perimeter too. I would love to do the " manure" trench" method of heating, but I will literally have almost no room to walk when I plant my last row of veggies this week, so I don't know where I'd put it. I have a friend who works at a pool store and was thinking about asking him to pick up an old solar cover if he could find one, then just laying it over to of the hoop house for one more barrier ( must be the clear type obviously). Thoughts?


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RE: Hoop house questions for Zone 5a/b...

More photos...


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RE: Hoop house questions for Zone 5a/b...

Another one...


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RE: Hoop house questions for Zone 5a/b...

Final pic showing the vent...


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RE: Hoop house questions for Zone 5a/b...

Wow -- that is all really impressive! You're making me wish my husband liked to build things :) I just have low hoops and Ag fleece, also Zone 5, and the only thing I do that's not already on your list is some of the cold hardy lettuces like Winter Density and Rouge D'hiver. Started now at least they'd go crazy in March and feed you well. And isn't the "impress your neighbors" factor in all of this so much fun?

What I want to know is where did you get already growing onions at this time of year? I had a poor onion harvest last year, and I've got blank spaces under the hoops I'd definitely put spring onions in if I could get some.


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RE: Hoop house questions for Zone 5a/b...

Pyro321,

Looking very nice! The stuff is growing well. With these temperatures we have been having, things will really grow nice (even with the low light levels). Your milk jugs will help with heat. With a small tunnel, they loose heat and gain heat at a faster rate than at larger tunnel. So any additions you make will help that.

I forget if you said if you have any row cover. If you do, I would get that ready, in case you need it. Also, don't be afraid to leave your door open too, with the sunny days and above normal temps (at least here in Kansas) it warms up alot!

As far as onions go Elisa, I always buy onion sets at the end of the season and try to keep them in the fridge to keep them dormant. They can get looking pretty bad, but I put them in the ground, water and they take of and we have green onions all winter long. Also, I keep all the onions I grow in the spring and summer. If they start to sprout, I either plant them whole, if they are small or cut out the growing part and plant that. I am also growing Evergreen Winter Hardy Scallions. I didn't get them planted early enough, but they will be ready about the time we run out of the other green onions.

I just got a bunch of lettuce, tatsoi and Kohlarbi (experimental) transplanted yesterday. It was all bigger than I would like, but it will take off and be ready by mid January to February.

Photobucket

Here is a pic of this whole tunnel. Starting on the right, there are direct seeded Radishes, Haikuri Turnips, Arugula, Tendergreen Mustard. The next bed over has Vitamin Green (a braising Green) Red Choy, Joi Choy, Napa Cabbage, Tokyo Bekana.

If you like Napa Cabbage, Try Tokyo Bekana. It is really good and Cold hardy. Just break off the leaves you want and leave the plant. It will just keep growing and growing!

Photobucket

Finally here are the carrots in our 2 movable tunnels. We still have 2.5, 32 foot beds to dig and the whole other tunnel.

Photobucket

Photobucket

There are alot of amazing things that a high tunnel can do during the winter. Every year is different!

Before long you will be harvesting lots of Kale and Chard!

Photobucket

Photobucket

About the pool cover, I know people have used them and like them, I just don't know anything about them.

Jay


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RE: Hoop house questions for Zone 5a/b...

Jay, that stuff is AMAZING! Are you a market gardener? It's also huge.

Thanks very much for the tips on onions -- I always wondered how people got green onions in winter. I've got some onions from last summer that remained tiny -- think I'll plant them instead of trying to chop tiny onions this winter. That's cool that you can just plant the growing part of a sprouting onion.

Plus, you reminded me I planted evergreen scallions, too! I need to go look for them tomorrow.


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RE: Hoop house questions for Zone 5a/b...

Last year, I got them planted earlier in the year and had a good crop. This year I got them in about a month late. I will have them in February/March.

Yes I am a market gardener and full time teacher. We have 6 high tunnels with about 5,000 square feet of winter growing space.

We just had a winter market last week. Here is my booth space.

Photobucket

Jay


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RE: Hoop house questions for Zone 5a/b...

Hello. I am keeping an eye on all your successes (and failures) with these hoop house enterprises. I am intending to begin my city garden hopefully next summer, and am planning on extending over-winter with an unheated hoop house for four-season gardening. I have been busy rebuilding the perimeter yard fence this year, and still have almost half of it to accomplish, but at least the garden plot area will be protected by spring, so that summer crops may be possible. I suspect there will be too much other prioritization to begin in the spring, although I would dearly love to get some spring peas.


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RE: Hoop house questions for Zone 5a/b...

Elisa,

I got the onions form a friend who was tilling up his garden late in the year. He didn't use them and thought they were too big and old. I say waste not, want not. I think they'll make it just fine, but some of those onions are about the size of an entire bunch that you'd buy at the grocery store, so I'm not sure about the whole "old tasting" thing. And thanks for the recommendations on the other lettuces. I'm always willing to try new crops.

Jay,

I've actually got row cover on order so I should be good there. The only problem is going to be with my job. I am a professional FireFighter and work 24 hr shifts, so if it gets too cold during the night that I'm at work, it won't be covered for that night. Hopefully since I chose all cold hard plants, it won't be a problem. The napa cabbage and kohlrabi sound great to me, but I'm afraid I'm all out of room. Thought I might have a little room to try a thin row of peas, but I have to research if they'll make it or not. I also gave a fleeting thought about heating with manure in the spots that I use to walk in there, but I've been reading of a lot of sites that say the minimum size of a pile to produce heat has to be 2 to 3 feet deep. I don't think I can get that much manure on a monthly basis, nor do I think I would have the room to dig the trench in there without crushing/messing up some plants. Guess I'll just stick to the milk jugs for now.


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RE: Hoop house questions for Zone 5a/b...

Pyro -- well, your onions *look* great. Hopefully they'll taste great too.

Jay -- I want some sweet potatoes!

Planted my tiny onions yesterday, under cover.
Fingers crossed for some green sprouts under the snow.


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RE: Hoop house questions for Zone 5a/b...

Elisa:

Thanks, our sweet potatoes weren't as good this year as last year. With the drought, it was hard to get enough water to them this year. I also got them in a little late. Here are some from last year. They were awesome!

Photobucket

Photobucket

Jay


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RE: Hoop house questions for Zone 5a/b...

Jay, your produce is gorgeous!


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RE: Hoop house questions for Zone 5a/b...

Thank you defrost!

I try to produce the best tasting and best looking produce available. If I would buy it, I don't try to sell it!

Jay


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RE: Hoop house questions for Zone 5a/b...

Hi, I am new here, but this is the hoop house I had for a year in zone 7, but have moved since then. I was growing peas, spinach and bok choy .. throughout the winter. I am now hoping to have a hoop house against my house, using the south wall of the house as one wall of the hoop house. Any experience with that?


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RE: Hoop house questions for Zone 5a/b...

Jan (Ken?) I am curious how you would place a hoop house against the house proper? I will be locating my garden near the south side of the house, and could possibly go against it, but I don't know how you would get a good seal with a non-permanent structure without damaging the house wall. Perhaps you could place a frame under the eave to receive the top end of half hoops? Or were you going to place the end of the hoop house against the wall? My opinion (not that it matters) is that a free-standing hoop house is easier to set up, manage, and relocate if desired.

Darrell


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