Gardening in the ice and snow of Pennsylvania seems impossible until you try it in an unheated hoophouse. 2011 will be my third year of year-round gardening and this blog will be a journal and calendar of planting schedules, successes, failures and hopefully, a bountiful harvest.
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
FREE RANGE GARDEN
Hoophouse PVC will support growing tomatoes
Yesterday, I took down the hoophouse for the rest of the summer, until its time to put it back up in October. The tomato plants were almost hitting the top of it and it was getting a bit too warm and moist in there. Besides, the temperatures are in the 70s in the day and 50s at night. The tomato plants, which were started January 31 and planted in the hoophouse on March 21, are big and healthy with tons of yellow flowers and strong, thick stems. The tomato plants that were started on March 12 and transplanted into pots on April 2 are small and spindly. I know from experience that they will eventually catch up to their older cousins, and will produce fruit about a month later. Whether or not they will produce longer into the fall is to be seen. The nasturiums that were planted in the hoophouse are up and looking promising. Hopefully they will give the tomatoes some protection from pests and also give the garden some extra color.
View of broccoli netting
So what did I learn this year from the hoophouse? Well, I still think that the design of the hoophouse is the right one for me. I like that it fits right onto the raised bed frame. I also like having the zippers to open the hoophouse for ventilation and access. The 12 ml plastic is still holding up, although it is starting to crack by the zippers. Also, the stitching on the roof of the hoophouse has given way and I've duct taped it for the last two years. But really, considering that this thing has survived 5 winters with quite a bit of snowfall and then the heat of the early fall is pretty remarkable. I'd say that this experiment has been a big, tasty success! If I get around to it, I'll probably make a new one this summer, although I'll still use the old one as well, until it totally disintegrates. The hoophouse and has definitely extended my growing season and has been a valuable addition to my garden routine.