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Hedgerow

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In the hoop houses

Posted on by Anne Cox

ginger bedThe ginger growing in the hoop house is starting to look good, and we have begun harvesting some of the baby ginger. Yum. Such a delicate flavor. I’ve been doing a better job of adding the seaweed-based fertilizer we use regularly than I did the first year I grew ginger, but even so, the ginger just seems to hang out looking straggly and weak until toward the end of August. Then the growth just seems exponential. This year we have a surprise ginger flower growing. Just one, and it’s not that impressive. Maybe something more will happen.

ginger flower I expect we will harvest bits each weekend and then do a grand harvest of the ginger toward the end of September, or maybe into October, depending on the weather. The first year we had the baby ginger I made two different sorts of ginger jams and candied-ginger. Thanks to our neighbor, Angie, I learned the trick of preserving the ginger in vodka, so I had baby ginger all winter, and ginger vodka when he ginger was gone. (I used the vodka mainly in marinades, by the way.) I’m thinking about trying some ginger beer this year. Just a thought.

tomato house The tomato hoop house has been productive, though I am about bored with it and ready to pull most of the plants, making way for the winter crops I have started in the greenhouse. I can’t, however, until more tomatoes ripen. Not to mention the rest of the Petite Yellow Watermelons.

speckeled roman The Speckled Romans and the San Marzanos are about to ripen with a vengeance. I believe much tomato sauce is in our future. Most of the heirlooms have done their thing and have only a few green tomatoes waiting to ripen. I was disappointed this year with the Black Prince, and will probably not grow it again, and I tried Weisnicht’s Ukranian and was not impressed. Aunt Ruby’s German Green is a keeper: I’ll grow more next year. And more Pink Brandywines. The Cherokee Purple were somewhat feeble this year, though in the past they have done well.

mountain magic 1 Not an heirloom, but a great producer and a tasty two-bite treat is Mountain Magic. That’s a keeper. It’s just coming on now, but what a crop. I also grew Luci and Rebleski, both hybrids bred for greenhouse/hoophouse production. Both of them proved to be disease resistant with about the same level of production of neat, uniform red tomatoes. I’m not sure I saw much difference between the two. I doubt I’ll grow Peacevine, a rampant grape tomato that is only now starting to produce anything.

5 Responses to In the hoop houses

Beth Riddick says: October 25, 2014 at 11:12 pm

I have a couple of questions if you don’t mind. Will this hoop house handle snow, or do you have to take it down before your winter sets in? And do you think it would be practical to heat one like yours for starting seedlings?

We need extra room for starting tomato seedlings this coming spring; we may get a little snow and temps below freezing here in Virginia. I’m thinking about a hoop house over our raised beds, and possibly with row covers over the seedlings. Any ideas? Thanks.

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Anne Cox says: October 26, 2014 at 6:57 am

The hoop houses handle the snow here (which was considerable last year in particular), but I add a bit of insurance: I put up 2x4s down the center, supporting the ridge pole. About every four feet. The snow sheds well, though.

I think you could add heat and start seedlings in here. I move my hardier seedlings to the hoop houses to make more room in the greenhouse. I don’t have any heat here, which means I did lose a few when temperatures plunged in the spring, but not bad. Adding a heat source would help, of course. The doors are the leakiest parts, so as long as you have the doors tight you should hold the heat at least as well as other similar hoop houses. And the double layer of row covers helps. I put row covers over my seedlings when I realized how cold our nights were getting for a spell. It worked.

Good luck.

Reply
Beth Riddick says: October 27, 2014 at 8:50 pm

If you don’t mind another question: do you find it cost-effective to use UV-stablized plastic on the hoop house, or do you use a more standard covering?

Reply
Anne Cox says: October 28, 2014 at 5:41 am

I used 6 mil plastic, which I believe has UV stabilizers. The pvc of the pipes is supposed to react negatively with the plastic, but I have not had problems yet, and I am in my fifth year on one of the hoop houses. Where I did use a plastic of unknown pedigree on a couple of end walls the winds last winter shredded it. This week’s task is to replace that plastic.

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