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Hoop house question..

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Hoop house question..

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 1/23/2011, 4:37 pm

I plan to install a standard hoop house over my sfg this spring. About how long can I count on it extending my growing season on both ends (spring and fall)? I am wondering how I need to adjust my planting/starting schedule. 2 weeks? 4 weeks?

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Re: Hoop house question..

Post  miinva on 1/23/2011, 5:23 pm

According to Eliot Coleman, author of Four Season Harvest and the Winter Harvest Handbook, who has a productive farm in Maine, each layer of covers drops you about 1 1/2 zones. I'm in zone 7 so a hoop house would raise us to mid-9, and if we did what Eliot Coleman does and put another layer of floating row cover over the crops inside of the hoop house it would raise us to 11-ish! I haven't tried it so I can't attest for it's success, but I would think you'd be safe to move the date by one zone when you're planting.

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Re: Hoop house question..

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 1/23/2011, 6:59 pm

Zone being from 6a to 6b or from 6a to 5a?

If I go with 1-1/2 zones, I would effectively go with Little Rock, AR's calendar. That gets me 3 weeks (22 days) according to Mel's recommendation of victoryseeds' website. Insane!....and awesome. I may shave a week in my first season so as not to blow out all my seedlings. But, boy howdy that'd be great!

This is aggressive as you know where, but here is what some quick poking with calendars did for me...

My date is listed as from 4/30 to 10/8 in STL, MO. But, honestly, that's about 2 weeks conservative from other sources I've found. It is fairly widely accepted in STL to call "tax day" our average last winter frost. (Granted, records have recorded frost as late as 5/10.) And, our first fall frost is near Halloween, or 10/28.

So, bumping the dates for Oklahoma City (1 zone) and Little Rock, AR (1 1/2 zones) respectively, I get all the way back to 4/1 or 3/24, and out to 11/5 or 11/16, depending on how aggressive I want to be.

Pretty cool when you think about it. But, I am conservative by nature. So, I imagine I will shave about 14 days off Tax Day and remain prepared to call a small batch of seedlings "experimental" before I stick everything else in the ground.

Thanks for the help, and any other input is welcomed.

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Re: Hoop house question..

Post  camprn on 1/23/2011, 7:31 pm

You would be going from 6a to a warmer zone, 7 or better.

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Re: Hoop house question..

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 1/23/2011, 7:52 pm

@camprn wrote:You would be going from 6a to a warmer zone, 7 or better.

I meant 7. I don't know why I put 5....my bad.

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Re: Hoop house question..

Post  miinva on 1/23/2011, 8:36 pm

I just reread it to be sure, but he's saying that a layer of protection such as an unheated hoop house moves you 1 1/2 full zones, not 1/2 increments. I wanted to verify because I found it hard to believe, but he says that the double layer that they do (portable greenhouses with floating row cover inside) effectively moves them from zone 5 to zone 8.

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Re: Hoop house question..

Post  quiltbea on 1/24/2011, 12:08 am

I read Eliot Coleman's book on 4-Season Growing and want to try it myself this year as I live in Maine, also.
Covering your crop inside a hoop house or Coldframe extends your season into the early winter but one must also plant crops that are able to withstand some cool weather.
For that reason I'm adding things like arugula, claytonia, and mitzuna to my list of extended green crops. They take lower temps more readily.
Unless you live in the far south with much warmer winters than ours, I don't think I'll be able to plant peppers and tomatoes.
I do know for a fact that heavy row cover can help one start an earlier crop of such things as lettuce, spinach and even a very early tomato, like Oregon Spring. Oregon Spring seedlings can be planted outdoors a month before last frost date. I tried it myself and it worked, but when it got really cold at nite, the tomatoes just stopped growing until the air warmed up a bit. Also, the variety is not as tasty as many toms but if you just want a jump on early tomatoes, they are certainly early..
I'm sure that heavy row cover at the other end of the season must help to extend the late crops as well and putting it inside a coldframe would extend it even longer.
Good luck with all the experiments everyone. We'll all learn more from these personal trials this year.

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Re: Hoop house question..

Post  quiltbea on 1/24/2011, 12:14 am

Here's my Oregon Spring tomatoes

Its May 28th, with our last frost-free date in 2 days, and there are yellow blossoms already starting on my 3 plants. That's some Swiss chard in front of them. Nothing else had been planted in this bed yet except for a basil plant to the left of the tomatoes.

edited to add: It helps to choose plants that will be able to take a little cold weather.

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Re: Hoop house question..

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 1/24/2011, 9:19 am

My main thing is getting lettuce, carrots, spinach and some other tuber types into the ground. And, extending lettuce, spinach, and broccoli primarily.

I am a bit concerned about extending tomatoes......they will be so darned big by fall. And, I am not sure what good it will do to start them, or peppers, anyway. I would imagine, though, one would have more luck starting them rather than extending them solely because of the size and difficulty in covering such large plants. My hoop house is only going to stand about 3-4 feet tall in the center. I don't think that allows much room for a floating row cover, personally.

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Re: Hoop house question..

Post  kiwirose on 1/24/2011, 10:01 am

I am working with extending my season 4 weeks - there will still be a chance of some very cold nights, but on those nights (which there won't be too many) I will put an additional cover on the plastic (light blanket) so the temps don't drop too far. I will still only work with the cold weather crops though, primarily kale, spinach, collards, chards and starting the salad greens a little early - I am just playing with one bed this season- it is my first with a hoop house. I will also extend at the end of the growing season - same vege to extend but might build a second house and have two for the fall. This year I will make sure I have tons of spinach, collards and kale going into late fall - my plants were too small when it got cold and didn't have a very long season. We had gone from very hot to snow and ice almost overnight it seemed and I still haven't gotten over the trauma of fresh homegrown vege withdrawl lol.

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Re: Hoop house question..

Post  quiltbea on 1/24/2011, 11:13 am

I thought I was going to get a 2nd crop of Oregon Spring tomatoes in the fall when there were so many new blossoms on the plants. Unfortunately, the tomatoes that started growing didn't have a chance to get mature before it became too darn cold. This is a determinate variety so didn't get very tall.
BackyardG..... You might try an early determinate in a 3' tall hoophouse and try your luck. I plan to this year with a very early variety of determinate which I'll plant in the early spring and then hope again for that 2nd flush of blossoms at the end of summer.

These are Oregon Spring tomatoes on Oct 2nd last year, with their new green tomatoes and a bar of Irish Spring to keep away the deer. I didn't remove the plants after they finished their summer harvest so was surprised when blossoms started again.
Maybe having them in my A-frame would have helped but I had that full last fall.
I find the experimenting just as enjoyable as the actual gardening.

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Re: Hoop house question..

Post  GWN on 3/6/2012, 11:14 am

quilt bea
We are in the same gardening zone, I wonder when do you plant your tomatoes outside in your hoop house.

I am getting mine set up, I have the small ones for the spinach, but I have two tall ones for tomatoes.
I am getting the ground warmed up there now.

Thanks

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Re: Hoop house question..

Post  quiltbea on 3/6/2012, 12:42 pm

GWN.....Normally our last frost here is around May 30, sometimes even June 5th, so I never transplant toms too early. I've learned that if the air is too cool, they'll slow down in growth. If you wait several days til its warmer, any transplants will catch up with the earlier ones anyway.



On 5/15/10 I transplanted 2 in my covered A-frame.



The next year on 5/22/11 I transplanted 2 in the A-frame. I could have started them a lot earlier because our last heavy frost was on 4/10 with only a few nites after that below 32*F. But who knew it would be such a warm spring. In fact we had some days in the 90s in early June which destroyed several of my brassicas.



But on 4/24/10 when I tried Oregon Spring toms, which you can plant OUTDOORS a month before last frost, I planted in an outside bed on 4/24/10. They weren't killed by the frosts but the cold sure slows down their growth. Also, the flavor wasn't the best but at least I got early tomatoes that year. The cheesecloth over the newly transplanted toms is to let them adjust slowly to full sun after hardening off for a week.

This year I plan to put my tomatoes in the A-frame around May 10th if I can get them started and hardened off in time. I'll put extra towels or sheets over them inside the A-frame if we expect frosty nites. Sometimes you just have to take a chance. I always have several transplants leftover in case I lose any.

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Re: Hoop house question..

Post  GWN on 3/6/2012, 11:28 pm

I do think that I am a bit warmer than you.
Last year I planted my tomatoes outside in April under the high hoop.
However my seedlings this year I have planted much later, so likely no worries there.

I bought cattle panels and bent them over and put plastic over them

This is obviously a little later in the year, you can see the tomatoes under the high hoops.
The last freeze here is May the 1st to the 7th.

One tip I learned last year to get ripe tomatoes early was to put a over ripe banana in with the tomatoes and they all started ripening RIGHT away.
I am thinking I might try to warm up the beds now with plastic, then put the mels mix in and plant the seedling tomatoes around early April, perhaps even applying row covers for that second layer that Coleman uses (in Maine)

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Re: Hoop house question..

Post  snibb on 3/6/2012, 11:31 pm

That's a good looking garden my friend

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Re: Hoop house question..

Post  quiltbea on 3/6/2012, 11:35 pm

GWN.....Do you mean you put an over-ripe banana beside the growing tomato plants or among the fresh-picked ones that aren't quite ripe?

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Re: Hoop house question..

Post  GWN on 3/6/2012, 11:39 pm

That's a good looking garden my friend
It really is amazing how impressive an overgrown green weed jungle appears on a very cold March night.
But you are very kind Wink

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Re: Hoop house question..

Post  GWN on 3/6/2012, 11:42 pm

I just laid a few over ripe bananas under the tomato plants when they did not seem too keen to ripen, and PRESTO, I had lots and lots of ripe tomatoes.
In fact I went to the local farmers market and they did not have any tomatoes, they were complaining that they had the tomatoes, but that the just would not ripen. Everyone complained about that last year, however once mine began ripening there was no stopping them.
It is the ethylene gas given off as plants ripen, it causes other plants to ripen.
On the flip side, it is what causes everything in your fridge to go bad once one thing has gone bad Razz

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Re: Hoop house question..

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