Anyone growing in a hoop house?

dottile46 Posts: 437 ✭✭✭

I have a hoop house that was here when we bought this place two years ago. It isn't huge at 12' W x 36' L x 6.5' at the center. I do not heat it. We are in zone 6a.

I have 3 planters hubby built that are each about 5.5" to 6" deep and 20" wide x 42" long built on legs so the top of the planter is about 38" above the ground. This fall I decided to grow a winter crop of spinach in them. Here it is December 21st and I still have spinach going strong. We've had about 15 nights, not all in a row, that have been below freezing with two nights in the 0 to 8 degree F. range back to back. About half of the nights have been in the upper 20's.

I had no idea what to expect so I was sure to harvest pretty aggressively the night before the first two cold snaps and made sure they were well watered. (Somewhere I read that plants stress less in winter when they have adequate soil moisture.) If I lost the crop at least I had harvested it before hand. This last cold snap I didn't harvest it as it hadn't developed enough after the last harvest but I did water it. Well, low and behold, it only suffered minor cold damage. The leaves that hung past the soil were discolored but not limp. I've no idea how long I'll have spinach but it sure tastes good for now.

Anyone else have an unheated hoop house they grow in during the winter?


  • greyfurball
    greyfurball Posts: 591 ✭✭✭✭

    I'm still harvesting from my garden many of the greens which I keep under small hoop house (like row covers hoop houses) also which has amazed me.

    We've had a very cold winter so far when it is compared to our normal. In December we've been down into single digits now 7 times. We've been in the teens 8 more times. Then we've been below freezing all the rest except for three days this month. And yet the greens are still hanging in there every time I go out and check on them or to harvest some more.

    I'd never tried growing them this late in the year before either so it is a surprise for me. But then I am using a much heavier type of row cover than I usually do so it is the only reason this is working.

  • dottile46
    dottile46 Posts: 437 ✭✭✭

    Isn't it amazing?! Guess I should be keeping track of the over night temps in some other format than my brain.

    The hoop house thing is still new to me although I will say, I have done a fair amount of experimenting with it😉

    I've thought about getting row covers before but think it would just be another toy for our cats. I've had trouble keeping them off my hoop house the way it is.

  • greyfurball
    greyfurball Posts: 591 ✭✭✭✭

    @dottile46 yes the small short row covers are a wonderful hammock for the cats.

    I have nine outdoor cats now in the neighborhood and the new ones always need to be trained that those covers are not their personal rest and relaxation station. But with time and by persevering they learn. I also get help from the old-timers to the neighborhood. They help me chase them off when they see it. It's almost like a bunch of kids... the older ones watch out for the new ones pretty well also. All in all it's just not worth complaining about.

    The only thing I have found which helps though is I make my covers at least 36" high in the center (which makes tall sides and a steep pitch to the "roof"). Then if you stretch the fabric tight when you clip it to your supports it's not as much fun since they can't get very comfortable trying to hold on.

    The downside though there is too much air space for winter growing so I place a low row cover right about the height of the plants and then add a second one (the 36" height) over the short ones so really there is double row covers.

    I can't complain though - it's been working.

  • Gail H
    Gail H Posts: 359 ✭✭✭✭

    I don't exactly have a hoop house, but I set up little A frames and cover them in plastic. The best thing that I have found for this purpose is children's play yard sections. The brand I see when looking online is North States. I often find these at the curb on trash day and when I do, into the car they go. Two of them together make a nice little enclosure that I cover with plastic. I got a roll at Tractor Supply which should last a long time.

    Using this set up, I was able to pick lettuce for tonight's dinner and we have had quite a few nights down in the teens. If it is predicted to get that cold, I will pile a few more layers on top the the frame and hold everything down with firewood.

    I have also picked up crib sides to use in the same fashion. In the summer I zip tie netting to them for cucumbers.

    I hadn't realized it was an issue, but these are too steep for cats to nap on. I can sort of envision Snoopy stretched out on top of one, though!

  • dottile46
    dottile46 Posts: 437 ✭✭✭

    @Gail H As kids we had a doghouse that I tried the Snoopy thing on. lol my back hurt for the rest of the day. It felt way too sharp on the spine for me.

    @Gail H something triggered when I read your comment that you zip tie netting to the crib sides for cucumbers. Somewhere I read an article on what plant will work best with what trellis material. I thought it was pretty interesting. Don't recall where I read it though.

    This gardening under plastic is a new thing to me. It's definitely a season extender and I am experimenting as I can to see just what I can do with it. I've watched some videos where they've used row covers inside the hoop house to extend the season even further. Don't know if I want to do that at this point or not.

  • herbantherapy
    herbantherapy Posts: 453 ✭✭✭✭

    This year my raised beds are fallow but early spring and previous winters I use a cold frame to extend my crops. We just add a single pane window on hinges to my (standing height) raised beds so when it warms up they hang off the back safely and I just use a stick to prop open as it get s warm.

    This won’t help with heat but I found a fun and clever way to keep pests off my plants this summer instead of a traditional floating row cover I used colorful scarves!

    All my raised beds are 3.25 feet off the ground and I don’t have a cat but I’ve also not seen any neighbors cats up in the beds, thank goodness! I had not thought of the cat hammock dilemma til this thread!