Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Hoop House Update

We are really enjoying our hoop house. Even with a cold spring (we even had a thin layer of snow on Easter week) the veggies are growing well. For a while I had a thermometer in it. Usually it was about ten degrees warmer then the outside temperature in the morning unless it really dropped down cold. On warm days, the sunlight quickly warmed it, but unlike a glass cold frame, the Mikroclima cloth allowed air flow so it did not overheat. The Mikroclima also allows rain to penetrate but I did need to water it occasionally, especially during our dry March.
We used some of the methods found in Square Foot Gardening book, including tacking in grids to help with plant spacing. In a one foot square, we planted one broccoli plant, four lettuce or kale plants, nine spinach plants or about twelve onions. Loose leaf lettuce seed was just sprinkled in. I'm amazed at how much a box this size produces. This method would be perfect for someone with minimal space who wanted maximum yield.
I'm not sure how much the water jugs are helping. The idea is that they will absorb heat during the day and release it at night. They are certainly warm in the evening. Before fall, I want to paint the bottles black to help in heat absorption.
With the box located right outside our garage door, it is easy to care for. Tonight after a heavy rain shower, I ran outside for some fresh greens for an evening salad. I would have hated to wallow through the mud into the garden just to pick lettuce!
And when the result is a luscious salad like this, no wonder we like our hoop house! I'm always amazed at how tender and sweet home grown spring greens are compared to what we've been buying at the store all winter!

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