Saturday, October 15, 2011
IT’S COLD ENOUGH FOR THE HOOPHOUSE AGAIN
It seems as though the weather changes so fast in October here in eastern Pennsylvania. Early October has warm temperatures and thunderstorms. But come October 15 and it’s time to put the hoophouse up. Just a week ago we had temperatures in the 70s and even in the 80s and today, October 15, it is windy and a high in the 60s. A windy day would not have been a good day to wrestle plastic for the hoophouse, but luckily I put it up last week and kept the zippers open so it wouldn’t bake in there. Well, today I planted lettuce and mesclun – my first hoophouse crop! Yay!!! I’ll have to monitor the temperature in there and unzip it when need be. When the sun hits that plastic, it can reach into the 90s, although with the slanting sun, the garden is mostly in the shade. I put up only one structure this fall – the hoophouse – since the flat topped one ripped and got thrown out in the spring. On closer inspection, the hoophouse was actually in pretty good shape and only needed a little duct tape repair on the top seam. Zippers still look good. I am shocked that the plastic is holding up this well.
The lettuce and spinach that I planted a month ago looked like it was going to be a great fall crop until some critter munched it down to the roots. Generally, animals stay out of the hoophouse and I think that we are good to go for our fall/winter crop. I also planted some lettuce on the south side of the house as an experiment to see if the warmer side of the house will be conducive to growing. That is, as long as animals don’t find it first.
The garden is still producing a few things. I am still picking beans, although the plants are starting to look a little freezer burned at this point in the season. The ‘Bright Lights’ Swiss Chard is beautiful and I made a delicious salad for lunch today, topped with some fresh picked peppers. I even cut up some of the colorful stems of the chard to add some interest. The marigolds are still blooming but I am starting to dump leaves into the garden and get it ready for the winter.