salt build-up in hoophouses

wiediger wiediger at
Fri Dec 7 10:57:30 EST 2001

We've been growing in hoophouses for 7 years.  We've seen salt build up after 4.  Took the plastic off the first house that exhibited salt build-up and left it off for about 8 months.  In addition to rain, we also ran overhead sprinklers.  Salt build-up exhibited itself again in about 4 months.  We can minimize the effect by incorporating a good quantity of compost.  

As for tomatoes after tomatoes after tomatoes...there are some old time tomato growers who plant them year after year in the same field and feed the tomatoes with compost made from the vines from the old tomatoes.  They tell me their plants get better every year!

We found a possible solution to tomato hornworm in hoophouses is to close them up just before dusk.  The years we do this we have minimal hornworm damage.  When we leave them open, we see a lot.

I agree with Bob, a heated hoophouse is too valuable to grow winter vegetables.  You have to analyze cost and profit per square foot.

Paul and Alison Wiediger
Au Naturel Farm

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Bill Shoemaker 
  To: Market Farming 
  Sent: Friday, December 07, 2001 7:53 AM
  Subject: [market-farming] Re: hoop houses

  I think it is something to be concerned about long-term. Whenever you irrigate you allow free moisture in the soil, which dissolves natural salts. As evaporation occurs ( and tunnels promote evaporation), the evaporating water leaves these salts on the surface of the soil. Eventually, they build up to toxic levels. 
  I think we will end up having to address this problem in tunnels because irrigation is essential. 
  Another possible solution is overhead irrigation, but it would be necessary to overirrigate in the long term to ensure the salts are washed down.  You might want to try running enough rainbird sprinklers in there to flood it once or twice a year. This would also ensure that you have a good soil moisture profile before the growing season starts.

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