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Spring cover

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Spring cover

Post  jbh29 on 4/11/2011, 4:53 pm

I simply have gardening on the brain and can't stop thinking about it! (I think I'm in the right forum for that, it seems...)

I've had plastic over one of my 4 beds for a week and the soil is nice and warm. I've turned it to get the cooler stuff up from the bottom and in a little while I'm going out to rig up a 'green house' over this bed. My plan is to sow lettuce and spinach and peas. And maybe in a week or so even set my trays of seedlings out under the plastic cover.

I'm guessing that on warm days it will be safe to lift the sides of the plastic. Does this sound like a good plan?

I'm in northern Wisconsin... anybody else planting under cover up here yet or am I out of my mind to start?
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Re: Spring cover

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 4/11/2011, 5:40 pm

If you use 6mm contractor's plastic, you will be shocked at how fast things will heat up in the morning with sunshine.

Rule of thumb from my experience:

- Sunny days will get to +40-50 degrees above outside air temps.
- Cloudy days will get to +10 degrees above outside temps.

For example, bright sunny day of 50 degrees. I will hit 90 in your greenhouse. It may hit 100+.

My guide was to ventilate if temps were supposed to hit 40+ outside my garden. Spring veggies can handle things in the 30s. They won't grow quickly, but they will survive just fine. You can't afford, imo, to run off to work and have the sun come out while you are unable to get home to ventilate. On cooler days, I just opened the ends and never lifted the sides so the hoops would hold some of the heat in.

Hope that helps.
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Re: Spring cover

Post  jbh29 on 4/11/2011, 8:38 pm

Great info about the temps! I'm fortunate to be able to not work outside the home so I can babysit my greenhouse. I like the tip of opening the ends for ventalation. Easier, I think than raising the sides. I should probably get a little thermometer to watch what happens in there.

Anyway, late this afternoon, my kids & I planted 3 squares of spinach, 4 or 5 squares of different lettuces, and 6 or so squares of peas. I couldn't even wait long enough to get a reply to my origional post! Patience is one of my biggest garden problems. Smile

If the greenhouse prooves to be warm can I put little tomato seedlings in this early? I was reading a post about sprouting seeds in vermiculite and puting them right into the beds. I was going to buy tomato plants, but I'm so inspired to try more seeds on my own.

My kids are in bed and I can read this forum to my heart's content to find answers!
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Re: Spring cover

Post  quiltbea on 4/12/2011, 12:06 am

I built an A-frame last year to start early crops. It has a vinyl plastic covering that I can raise on the sides when I'm working inside and also I can lower the top upside-down vees on the 2 sides to allow the hot air to escape.
How I use the plastic depends on the weather.
Nice day, lift the front and back flaps. Most things are cool-tolerant anyway; lettuces, scallions, carrots, spinach and the like.
If I'm expecting a frosty nite, the sides come down in the late afternoon to conserve the heat thru the nitetime cold.

I'm ready for another year.
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Re: Spring cover

Post  jbh29 on 4/12/2011, 10:05 pm

Thanks for the photo, quiltbea. I'll have to find time to post one of my little greenhouse. I used 2 tomato cages to hold up the plastic and then rocks to hold the sides and ends down. Very high tech. I hung a thermomter in there this evening. Supposed to get below freezing tonight so I can't wait to see how warm it is in there. But lettuces, spinach and peas should be ok (I hope).

I layed plastic over another of my beds to warm it up nice and bought a bunch more seeds today and some vermiculite. I'm going hog wild with sprouting any minute now... bounce
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Re: Spring cover

Post  quiltbea on 4/12/2011, 11:11 pm

jbh.....Its always nice to get a jump on Mother Nature when we can.

I, too, cover a couple of my beds with plastic early on so they warm up sooner.
It works, too.

On April 6th I had to shovel snow off all my beds so I could cover a few of them with plastic.
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Re: Spring cover

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 4/12/2011, 11:24 pm

Great pictures, guys!

If the greenhouse prooves to be warm can I put little tomato seedlings in this early? I was reading a post about sprouting seeds in vermiculite and puting them right into the beds. I was going to buy tomato plants, but I'm so inspired to try more seeds on my own.

I imagine you can, but I am just waiting for my frost date to pass a bit before tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers go out for me.

I just didn't want to keep the plastic on that long. I just wanted to keep things above freezing at night so I could get my salad veggies started. The rest will come in time. And, my hoophouse was getting too cold at night (into the 30's) for tomatoes to really grow much anyway. They need warmer overnight temps, too.

But, commercial growers do it. I'm sure with some trial and error, you can, too.
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Re: Spring cover

Post  jbh29 on 4/13/2011, 10:47 pm

My daughters & I build an actual hoop house today! cheers (my other one is simply plastic draped over tomato cages.) Just in time for nighttime highs in the 20's and daytime highs in the 40's! But I'm pleased anyway, even if it sits empty until warmer days come.

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Re: Spring cover

Post  boffer on 4/13/2011, 11:21 pm

Good for you guys!

I would sure be tempted to plant some cool crops in there though. Get a head start. It should work, and if not, it's only seeds!
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Re: Spring cover

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 4/13/2011, 11:28 pm

Looks fabulous, jgh!!

I would put a few seeds inside, too, if it were me. You may surprise yourself AND learn a little more about exactly what these veggies can handle in your backyard. If it works, you may be able to start earlier than you thought.

Either way, the soil inside will warm up if you just keep the hoophouse closed and get some sunny weather. Once it hits 90ish inside, that top couple of inches of soil will get up into the 40s and 50s pretty fast.

You'll be planting in no time. Looks like May 7th to the 12th is your frost date? I would definitely have some cool veggies sown soon. Remember, according to the book, lettuce, spinach, and peas can be sown 4-5 weeks before your frost date. That's basically now....or really close.

Either way, your hoops look so great!
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Re: Spring cover

Post  jbh29 on 4/14/2011, 8:59 am

It was 27 this morning and out in my hoop house it was 29ish. The condensation on the plastic was ice. I do have lettuce, spinach, peas planted in my first plastic covered 'creation' (not a hoop house) but no sprouts yet. And yesterday was such a nice day we added green onions, radishes, and 3 varieties of carrots in there (in honor of carrot week Smile )

So, I guess I'll be learning really soon if those seeds can sprout with temps of high 20s at night. I had hoped that I could put some of my earlier window plants like cucumbers and maybe even tomatoes in the hoop house, but i'm not certain how little plants would do with such cool nights. I though I remember reading somewhere, sometime, that if tomatoes are too cool early in the season they will not produce well later.

Anyone know if baby cukes, watermelons, or zuccini can take the cold at night under cover?
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Re: Spring cover

Post  quiltbea on 4/14/2011, 9:46 am

jgh.....Warm weather plants like cukes, toms, and zukes can NOT take cold at all. That's why you shouldn't plant them til all danger of frost is past, like a week or two beyond that date.

A light freeze of short duration for cool-weather crops shouldn't hurt them.
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