The Yellow Farmhouse Garden

March 25, 2014

Hoop house allows for early spring planting

Filed under: Greenhouse,Vegetables — bob @ 3:54 pm

It looks like it was a good decision to put up my hoop house last fall. As it looks right now, it could be a late start to the outdoor gardening season, although that could turn around very quickly.

The soil is still frozen in some parts of the garden, but in the hoop house, the soil temperatures range from about 64 degrees F in the center of the planting area to around 48 degrees F  right along the edges.

That means it’s time to plant some of those cool season vegetables  into the hoop house. My plan is to get radishes, spinach, and lettuce all in this week. The seeds are going directly into the soil.

Since these are all cool weather plants, they will do fine even if we happen to get one last Arctic vortex blast.

I messed up the red fluid in my soil thermometer when I dropped it out on the way to the hoop house. Instead, I went to the kitchen and got out one of our kitchen thermometers and used that to take the soil temperature –it’s the same one I used to check the corned beef on Saint Patrick’s Day.

I'm using a kitchen thermometer to measure the soil temperature in the

I’m using a kitchen thermometer to measure the soil temperature in the

It is good wholesome garden out there after all and the thermometer probe cleaned up nicely with a little dish washing detergent. But, don’t tell Judy, I’m not 100% sure she’ll buy that argument.


January 14, 2014

Hoop house lettuce survives the Arctic Vortex

Filed under: Greenhouse,Vegetables — bob @ 12:11 pm

People have been asking me how the lettuce in my hoop house looks after last week’s Arctic Vortex.

Out here in the countryside we had one night of -20 degrees F then, three nights in a row of -13 degrees F. I was sure all of my lettuce would be dead after exposure to that kind of temperature. So, I waited a few days to dig out the snow away from the door so I could get in to take a look at my crop.

As it turns out, most of the lettuce survived. The plants that I planted early in the season and had a chance to become established, came through nicely.

The second crop — the ones I planted later in the season — did not make it. Those plants never had enough time to grow into strong plants before the extreme cold arrived.

I should mention that a single layer of  plastic greenhouse covering wasn’t the only thing sheltering the lettuce. I also added an extra layer of plastic sheeting over the plants in a kind of hoop tunnel within a hoop house arrangement.

Here I am picking some lettuce. The blue material is plastic bubble wrap.

Then just before the Vortex really got cranking, I covered the inner tunnel with a layer of over-sized sheet of bubble wrap.  I believe that is what made the difference between life and death for those plants.

Now I’m back to harvesting fresh lettuce again and will probably run out of lettuce before winter is over.


December 31, 2013

Lettuce growing in the hoop house in December

Filed under: Greenhouse,Vegetables — bob @ 6:24 pm

In my last blog posting I wrote about building a hoop house out of reclaimed shade canopy parts.  After covering the structure I amended the soil with composted chicken manure.

Once the soil was improved, I planted a few short rows of lettuce seedlings. And they’re doing great.

The lettuce is not making much growth but it still looks great.

This crop of lettuce not only survived the single digit overnight temperatures we had out here they’re actually thriving under the plastic. So, we’re still eating home grown organic salads from the garden in December.

The success I’ve had so far in this little home-made greenhouse encouraged me enough to plant a second crop of lettuce a couple of weeks ago.

Because the days are so much shorter now, the lettuce is not growing like a spring crop would outside in the garden. That’s because there is not as much sunlight energy for photosynthesis right now — and the days are still getting shorter.

My goal is to harvest lettuce for Christmas dinner, has been met! Now, anything more I’ll consider a bonus.

I’ll keep you updated on how things go in the hoop house.


November 19, 2013

Hoop house construction details

Filed under: Greenhouse — bob @ 2:30 pm

Electrical conduit is the same diameter as the shade canopy parts. Here an electrical connector joins the two parts.

The wood framing is cedar strips I salvaged from someone else's construction project.

Plastic sheeting creates a lot of sail area. So, I tied down the frame to the foundation.

Look for more construction details here at this site. I’ll post more photos later.


Repurposing a shade structure into a garden hoop house

Filed under: Greenhouse — bob @ 2:29 pm

The latest addition to my fall garden is a homemade hoop house, which is just another name for an unheated, temporary greenhouse.

I’ve had small hoop tunnels in the past, just big enough for plants but that’s all. This one is big enough to walk into.

Using this structure will allow me to grow cold weather crops such as spinach, kale, and lettuce well into the winter. I also plan to use it to get an early start in the spring.

I made mine from parts to an old shade canopy that I haven’t used for a few years. We used it during the summer months to keep the sun off the picnic tables when we had outdoor get togethers.

Actually, I used only half of the pieces. Using all of the parts would have given me more square footage than I need. I just wanted a modest space to grow lettuce this fall and into the winter.

Looking at the pile of structural parts a had, it occurred to me that I could re-configure them into the size of hoop house I was looking for.

I did have to buy some materials for the project: plastic greenhouse covering, splicing tape, and pipe hardware. Since I didn’t want to cut any part of my shade canopy  – in case I ever wanted to use it for that purpose again — I also bought one length of metal electrical conduit and four connectors to use as post extensions. Since the electrical parts were the same diameter as the parts I already had, it made it easy to splice the two together.

I also added  some thin wood parts to make a door and give a place for me to attach the plastic sheeting. I used 4×4′s for the foundation.

I ended up with a greenhouse measuring 10 ft by 10 ft, that’s 100 square feet of growing space.  Next year, if I feel the need to, I can expand it up to its original size of 10 by 20 feet.

Except for the plastic covering and some hardware, this greenhouse is entirely made of re-purposed material.

If you’ve ever considered urban agriculture, this may be an inexpensive way to get started on a small scale. And if you don’t have a shade canopy?  Well, I’ve seen used shade canopies for sale at yard sales, some of them without their shade cloth or with parts missing. That’s OK though since you’re going to re- design the structure anyway.

So far, my hoop house is standing up against the wind and winter storms we’ve had. I optimistic that it will still be standing when spring arrives.


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