[Market-farming] High tunnel, hoophouse growing

Harriet Allen hattie_allen at yahoo.com
Tue Nov 24 09:11:17 EST 2009

Alison and Paul Wiediger have been doing what I'm doing on a larger scale for a much longer time.  We are pretty good references for people living in Zone 6, 7, 8.  For colder climates, Eliot Coleman is probably your best resource although the principles are essentially the same. But if you read the trade literature, you'll find lots about this topic.  You will always have to correct for your own conditions.  I have too much humidity as I'm living on the coast, so I have to be careful with watering, spacing, venting, etc.  I DO have a good bit of sunshine so that works in my favor, although a coastal region can have those stretches of several days where there is lots of cloud cover and humidity and that is what kills me in summer and winter.
Seeding in the greenhouse has been the ONLY way I planted up until I started to get my transplant production going.  Spinach likes cool soil for germination and I wouldn't be worried about it being too cool, but too hot!  But if the soil is moist, you will easily germinate spinach and everything else in the hoophouse.  Remember that your hooophouse does not get the moisture it gets outside and you will want to be careful to water enough, but not too much in winter.  It won't use the water it would in summer, but it will need water.  And if you don't use drip tape and are spraying overhead you may develop various disease problems.  I certainly did.  I use drip tape now.  If you are not setup to use drip tape, don't let that stop you from growing!  Just water early and on dry breezy days and vent well so things can dry off.  
And when Alison talks about soil temperature, she probably means in the cold part of winter.  Right now, the soil is much warmer than 50 degrees in my hoophouse and I'm even leaving windows open at night sometimes with nighttime temperatures around the 50 degree mark and so much wet weather causing a humid atmosphere.  Next week looks like some cold dry weather and then I'll be getting nice hot days in the hoophouse and closing it in the afternoon BEFORE it cools down significantly to trap as much hot air as possible.  I want it to stay warm as long as I can so will often close everything up around 3 in the afternoon on a sunny day as the angle of the sun cools things down well before sunset.

Hattie's Garden
31341 Kendale Rd.
Lewes, DE 19958
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