Sunday, October 9, 2011

Mini Hoop House Raised Bed Garden Experiment Begins

This week we braced for an early winter storm that brought nightly freezing temperatures.  
Our unfinished hoop houses were hastily set up and they worked. 
Nightly temperatures hit 30, 32, 37 degrees outside, but inside those hoop houses we maintained 47-53 degrees all night long. 
This is a huge success in my mind, and has convinced me to give a true 4 season garden a try.   
I began planting fall crops in early September, and as I take out spent summer plants I continue to add more fall and winter crops. 
Thus far, I have buttercup squash, winter luxury pie pumpkin, zucchini, and several tomato, eggplant, and pepper varieties that survived inside hoop houses or plastic bags this week.

A few professors told me I would certainly lose the tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers because that plant family cannot tolerate ANY frost, but most of mine didn't have to, they were insulated and temperatures remained close to their needed 51 degree minimum temps inside plastic.  The tomato plants that were not protected, did freeze and are dying.
Now that I realize that I can maintain a minimum set temperature inside the hoop houses I am going to tear out some more plants, put in 4 more beds of hoop houses and test this idea through winter.  I am going to add strings of white Christmas lights inside the hoops for those really cold, snowy nights of December, January, and February.  I will post about this more in the future after I construct the new hoop houses this next week in warmer weather.

Next week, my plans will include: 
removing more spent plants
amending soil
selecting and planting direct seed, seeds
start transplants indoors
building new hoop houses
covering hoop houses
maintaining hoop houses
blogging progress along the way.

Hoop houses are not perfect, using them will require me to check the inside temperatures repeatedly each day AND I have to open and close the ends a few times each day to keep inside temps from cooking or freezing plants.  It's alot of work, but I think it will be worth it.  I will know for sure once I can tally up how many pounds of produce I can grow through the coldest months this winter.  Something to think about tonight as I sleep.

I linked this post to the Barn Hop!


  1. It will be fun to follow along and see how things go! We don't *really* get cold enough here for hoop houses but I do have to occasionally cover my fall/winter veggies with frost cloth.

  2. I am excited and a little nervous too. I really hope this works, at least, I know I will learn alot about gardening in cool weather.


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