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The Hoophouse in Spring and
Summer
©Pam Dawling 2017
Twin Oaks Community, Central Virginia
Author of Sustainable Market Fa...
What’s in this presentation
 Ways to to make good use of your hoophouse when it’s hot
o Storage, remove plastic, move hoo...
I live and farm at Twin Oaks Community, in central Virginia.
We’re in zone 7, with an average last frost April 30 and aver...
Our Hoophouse at Twin Oaks
• We have one 30’ x 96’ FarmTek ClearSpan gothic arch hoophouse.
• We put it up in 2003, and li...
Farm storage and non-farming uses
• If none of the above options fit your plans, use the
space for dry storage until Septe...
Remove the plastic? Move the
hoophouse? Increase airflow
 The plastic could be pulled part way down the north side and ti...
Cooler plastics
• Kool Lite Plus plastic. Reflects back the InfraRed, UltraViolet
and Green parts of the spectrum, leaving...
Shade the plastic
• From mid May until early-mid September, we cover our hoophouse with a
single large piece of shade clot...
Choosing shadecloth
 Our shadecloth is 34’ x 96’, about
the same size as the footprint of the
hoophouse, knitted polyethy...
Shadecloth how-to
• Clip-on grommets (from Gemplers)
every 2’ along each long edge.
• Large hooks every 2’ along the base
...
Growing summer crops
Crop scheduling
 Remember to keep your fall planting dates and crop rotations
in mind, especially if...
Crop rotations
• In our first couple of years we grew 2 beds each of early
tomatoes and peppers, and then added in ½ bed o...
Hoophouse planting schedule, March
Date. Bed. Row ft. # rows. Space. Variety. How many? Height?
Early warm weather crops
• We transplant tomato, pepper, squash and
cucumber plants in the middles of the beds
4-6 weeks b...
High summer crops
• Summer crops have from mid July at
the earliest to early November at the
latest, to be in the ground, ...
Warm weather food crops
Lady Bell sweet pepper.
Credit Kathryn Simmons
• Suitable candidates
– crops you’d like earlier
– ...
Tomatoes
• We grow only early
tomatoes in our hoophouse.
• We start them 1/24, grow
them on a heating mat,
• We transplant...
Peppers
• We keep sweet peppers
growing in our hoophouse
from April 1 till November.
• We use Florida string
weaving, but ...
Eggplant
• Outdoors we keep eggplant
under rowcover until they
flower, to keep fleabeetles off,
but because the hoophouse ...
Cucumbers
We usually grow one row of early bush cucumbers,
sown 3/1, transplanted 4/1.
Tomatoes, squash and cucumbers Cred...
West Indian gherkins
• I first saw these unusual
pickling cucumbers at
Monticello. The origin of the
variety is uncertain,...
West Indian Gherkins
• These gherkins do not cross
with regular cucumbers, nor
with watermelon (although the
leaves resemb...
Squash and zucchini
Our goal is earliness, so
we choose a fast-maturing
variety. Gentry summer
squash, sown 3/1,
transplan...
Melons
• We tried late melons our first
summer, but they didn’t do well.
• We sowed the melons
(cantaloupe and watermelons...
Early green beans
We choose an upright bush variety, such as Strike, and sow
3/15. We harvest from 5/9. We clear them 6/15...
Baby ginger
• Fresh baby ginger sells at $9-
$20/pound.
• A yield of 8:1is good. 4:1 is
poor. You could get 17:1
• It need...
Growing ginger
• Calculate how much to buy. Rate is
about 30 lbs per 100 feet, with one
seed piece every 5” (250 pieces,
a...
Pre-sprouting ginger roots in crates
Photo credit East Branch Ginger
• March 24-April 1 - When buds are
obvious, plant in ...
Planting ginger in the hoophouse
• May 10 - When hoophouse soil is 55°F and
rising (check first thing in the morning),
tra...
The ginger growing season
• From July, once it is growing fast, water
daily. If foliage curls slightly in the early
aftern...
Ginger harvest
Photo credit East Branch Ginger
• Harvest early to Mid-October (5
months after sprouting) before the soil
t...
Turmeric and Galangal
• Other tropical root crops.
• Turmeric is not hilled. The
rhizomes grow out and slightly
downwards ...
Jicama
greenbeanconnection.wordpress.com
• Jicama, a crunchy tuber, is not a
quick-maturing crop, but it is
vining and we ...
Peanuts
• We tried peanuts (sown 7/1), in our
hoophouse, but they didn’t produce
well,
• Perhaps they were too hot and dry...
Cowpeas
• A useful high summer crop, cowpeas
can be sown later than outdoors, to
provide a succession following on
from ou...
Cowpeas
• We like Mississippi Silver and
Carolina Crowder.
• We sow 2 rows in a 4’ bed in
mid July,
• We install a 5’ stak...
Cowpea string-weaving cats cradle
How we support the cowpeas in our hoophouse. Photo Nina Gentle
Shelling beans
Black Turtle beans. Credit Southern Exposure
Seed Exchange
• We’ve also had good results
with shelling bean...
Edamame
• Humid climates and September
hurricanes can make for ugly spotty
bean pods outdoors in late
summer.
• Growing th...
Flowers
• Research is being done at Virginia State University and elsewhere.
Hoophouses can boost production, and improve ...
Seed Crops
• Hoophouses can be a great
place to grow seed crops.
• According to Nancy Bubel, in
the Seed Starter’s Handboo...
Reasons to grow seed crops
• On the east coast it is hard to grow “dry” seed crops
- legumes, lettuce, spinach, beets (as ...
More on seed crops
• You could start by growing one or two seed crops for yourself.
Growing seed for use on your own farm ...
Cover Crops
• Hoophouse growing burns up the organic matter in
the soil at a fast rate. If you don't need to grow
another ...
Drying and curing
• Dry seed crops grown outside, luffas, or flowers or ornamental grasses
for winter arrangements, (exper...
Soil solarization
• If you have pests or diseases in your
winter crops, and can live without use of
your hoophouse for a m...
Biofumigation
When heated in the solarization process, mustards release volatile compounds
very effectively. Different mus...
De-salinization
Photos from Iowa State University
• Salts can build up and damage crops, especially
if your soil doesn’t d...
Sowing when soils are hot
1. Consult the tables in Nancy Bubel’s New Seed Starter’s Handbook
or Knott’s Vegetable Grower’s...
Warm weather pest control
• Encourage beneficial insects
and spiders.
• Zipper spiders are our
friends! (Argiope aurantia)...
Root Knot Nematodes, Virginia
• Peanut Root Knot Nematodes have
been popping up in sections of beds
since 2010.
• We took ...
Root Knot
Nematodes, Hawai’i
• Gerry Ross, Maui, Hawai’i explained to me
the rotation they are experimenting with to
keep ...
Resources: Books
 High Tunnels: Using Low Cost Technology to Increase Yields, Improve Quality,
and Extend the Growing Sea...
Resources: More good books
(I have reviewed many of these books on my blog at www.sustainablemarketfarming.com)
 The Mark...
Articles
• Growing For Market May 2005 has an article by Steve Moore
on summer hoophouse use in PA.
• Growing For Market J...
Web Resources
 The HighTunnels website has information on construction, warm weather crops and
much else: http://hightunn...
Supplies
Klerk’s Kool Lite Plus plastic.
http://www.gpnmag.com/greenhouse-structures-
article2267
Robert Marvel Plastics...
Resources for Ginger and Turmeric
Alison and Paul Wiediger
http://aunaturelfarm.homestead.com/High-Tunnel-Ginger.html
Re...
Resources - slideshows
Many of my presentations are available at www.Slideshare.net. Search:
Pam Dawling.
 Cold-hardy Win...
The Hoophouse in Spring
and Summer
©Pam Dawling 2017
Twin Oaks Community, Central Virginia
Author of Sustainable Market Fa...
Hoophouse in spring and summer 2017 Pam Dawling
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Hoophouse in spring and summer 2017 Pam Dawling

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Food, Seeds, Cover Crops, Cut Flowers, Soil Building.
In colder zones growers use the summer hoophouse for all those hot weather crops that struggle outdoors! But if you can already grow melons, limas, okra outside, you may be left wondering how to make good use of that valuable covered space when it’s hot. As well as heat-loving crops, this presentation discusses cooling the hoophouse; using the opportunity to tackle soil-borne diseases or improve the soil and other uses like seed drying and storage.

Published in: Food
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Hoophouse in spring and summer 2017 Pam Dawling

  1. 1. The Hoophouse in Spring and Summer ©Pam Dawling 2017 Twin Oaks Community, Central Virginia Author of Sustainable Market Farming SustainableMarketFarming.com facebook.com/SustainableMarketFarming
  2. 2. What’s in this presentation  Ways to to make good use of your hoophouse when it’s hot o Storage, remove plastic, move hoophouse, increase airflow, add shade. o Growing summer crops - Crop scheduling and rotations o Grow crops – Warm weather food crops – Cut flowers – Seed crops – Cover crops o Cure or dry crops o Improve the soil – Solarize – Desalinize  Warm weather pests including nematodes  Resources and my contact info
  3. 3. I live and farm at Twin Oaks Community, in central Virginia. We’re in zone 7, with an average last frost April 30 and average first frost October 14. Our goal is to feed our intentional community of 100 people with a wide variety of organic produce year round.
  4. 4. Our Hoophouse at Twin Oaks • We have one 30’ x 96’ FarmTek ClearSpan gothic arch hoophouse. • We put it up in 2003, and like many growers we had the primary goal of growing more winter greens, early tomatoes and peppers. • Our hoophouse is divided lengthwise into five 4’ beds and a 2’ bed along each edge. • Our paths are a skinny 12” wide - maximum growing space. • “What to do with the hoophouse in summer?” a fine problem!
  5. 5. Farm storage and non-farming uses • If none of the above options fit your plans, use the space for dry storage until September. It’s probably a good idea to put a tarp over plastic items to slow the photo-degradation. • Dry your laundry! Store kids’ yard toys. Install cots over the beds and sleep there!
  6. 6. Remove the plastic? Move the hoophouse? Increase airflow  The plastic could be pulled part way down the north side and tied up along the hipwall, rolled up and covered in black plastic until fall, in the manner of the Haygrove seasonal use tunnels.  Removing the plastic through the summer is one of the recommended ways to deal with salt build-up in the soil (more later).  Move the hoophouse, by building it on sleds or wheels. That doesn’t answer the question of what to do with the space, it just moves the space over.  If you keep the plastic in place, increase airflow using big vents and roll-up or drop-down sides. We don’t have separate sidewalls - our primary goal is to keep the space warm for winter crops.
  7. 7. Cooler plastics • Kool Lite Plus plastic. Reflects back the InfraRed, UltraViolet and Green parts of the spectrum, leaving the hoophouse about 10F cooler in hot weather, while keeping it just as warm as InfraRed blocking plastic on cool overcast days. Costs almost twice as much as IR/anti-condensate plastic. • Relatively new Solaroof material, a four-layer woven material which diffuses the light and reduces over-heating. See the Robert Marvel website. • Another newer plastic is SolaWrap, aka Polydress, Poly Keder – bubblewrap on steroids. Effect of double poly without electricity. 10 Year Warranty. Diffusion: Up to 83% • I have not tried any of these.
  8. 8. Shade the plastic • From mid May until early-mid September, we cover our hoophouse with a single large piece of shade cloth. • Shadecloth lets crops thrive later into the summer than they otherwise would, and lets the crew harvest in there without dying. • More pleasant to stand in the hoophouse under the shade cloth than to be outside in the sun. • Possible to grow crops such as lettuce mix that are harvested young and don’t get the chance to bolt. The hoophouse conditions help these crops stay attractive.
  9. 9. Choosing shadecloth  Our shadecloth is 34’ x 96’, about the same size as the footprint of the hoophouse, knitted polyethylene 50% shade from Gemplers, $372 in 2004.  Shadecloth is available  Woven or knitted: knitted fabric is stronger, lighter in weight, more flexible, and doesn’t unravel when cut.  Polyethylene, PVC or polypropylene: Polypro is longer lasting, but only available woven. Avoid PVC as it will degrade the poly sheeting of the hoophouse.  In a range of shade factors. 40% is recommended for vegetables, 50% for flowers and 60% for cool weather vegetables in hot weather.  White, black or other colors
  10. 10. Shadecloth how-to • Clip-on grommets (from Gemplers) every 2’ along each long edge. • Large hooks every 2’ along the base boards on the north and south sides; ropes threaded through the grommets. • Early-mid-May - It takes 4 of us an hour to put it on. • We throw over a tennis ball in a sock tied to a rope, or a plastic flip-flop sandal, and then pull the shade cloth over. Much easier than putting on new plastic! • Set the shadecloth lower on the south side than the north. • Feed the ropes along through the grommets until the shade cloth hangs evenly and hook it on. • Removing it in mid September takes 30-40 minutes with 3 or 4 people
  11. 11. Growing summer crops Crop scheduling  Remember to keep your fall planting dates and crop rotations in mind, especially if the winter greens and salads are the main purpose of the hoophouse.  Essentially we have 3 crop seasons in our hoophouse: 1. winter crops planted in the fall (See my slideshow Fall and Winter Hoophouses) 2. early warm weather crops planted in March and April, 3. high summer crops planted in July.  The bulk of our winter crops are planted from mid- September to mid-October.
  12. 12. Crop rotations • In our first couple of years we grew 2 beds each of early tomatoes and peppers, and then added in ½ bed of hot peppers and a bed of late tomatoes. Clearly this is a lot of nightshades – 5 ½ beds out of 7! We’ve cut back to 2 beds of early tomatoes, 1 of bell peppers and hot peppers. It’s still quite a lot of nightshades – almost half of our growing space. • We don’t grow nightshades in the same bed two years running. We haven’t got a regular rotation. • We work out an ad-hoc plan for each year, juggling rotation, timing, height and shading. We look at the sequence of crops. • Because everything happens faster in a hoophouse, we are growing multiple crops in each bed each year. • We hope that the part of the year spent growing other crops contributes to a speeded up version of the time needed away from that crop in an outdoor rotation.
  13. 13. Hoophouse planting schedule, March Date. Bed. Row ft. # rows. Space. Variety. How many? Height?
  14. 14. Early warm weather crops • We transplant tomato, pepper, squash and cucumber plants in the middles of the beds 4-6 weeks before the last frost date. • With this plan in mind, we harvest the winter crops from the centers of the beds first, and plant the early summer crops • Then we harvest the greens on the south side which are blocking the light from the new crop. • Later we harvest the old crops on the north side, before they are impacting the new crop. • The other spring crops we grow are early dwarf snap peas (sown 2/1) and bush beans (sown 3/15). • The cucumbers and peas finish in mid July, the squash and tomatoes at the end of July. We keep our peppers through the summer until cold weather arrives (November). Corona pepper. Credit Kathryn Simmons
  15. 15. High summer crops • Summer crops have from mid July at the earliest to early November at the latest, to be in the ground, to fit in with our all-important winter and spring crops. • We can only grow crops that mature quickly, unless we either give up some space from our spring/early summer crops, or our fall/early winter crops, or get very creative! • An example of being creative might be growing a tall trellised crop in the northernmost bed, and planting a ground-hugging winter crop below it. Cowpeas in the hoophouse. Credit Kathryn Simmons
  16. 16. Warm weather food crops Lady Bell sweet pepper. Credit Kathryn Simmons • Suitable candidates – crops you’d like earlier – crops that grow in warmer climates – crops that grow better in drier climates – ideally, crops that are not in the same families as your main crops in other seasons. • Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, squash and zucchini, melons, early green beans, cowpeas, soup beans, edamame, baby ginger, turmeric, galangal, jicama (yam bean), peanuts.
  17. 17. Tomatoes • We grow only early tomatoes in our hoophouse. • We start them 1/24, grow them on a heating mat, • We transplant in the hoophouse 3/15, after clearing winter crops from the bed middles. • We harvest them from the very end of May to the end of July. • Our maincrop outdoor tomatoes are sown 3/15, planted out 5/2 (average last frost 4/20). We harvest those from July until frost. Young tomato plant. Credit Kathryn Simmons
  18. 18. Peppers • We keep sweet peppers growing in our hoophouse from April 1 till November. • We use Florida string weaving, but you could train them up twine if you prune them. • A good place to grow unusual hot peppers! Fewer different people harvest in our hoophouse, compared to outdoors, so unusual varieties do better, as there's less chance of them being harvested at the wrong stage. Baby black snakes control hornworms, perhaps?
  19. 19. Eggplant • Outdoors we keep eggplant under rowcover until they flower, to keep fleabeetles off, but because the hoophouse is warmer, we tried without rowcover. Crop failure! So, eggplant can work, if you guard against fleabeetles. • Eggplant can be pruned and trained up twine, if you want a long season Eggplant. Credit Kathryn Simmons
  20. 20. Cucumbers We usually grow one row of early bush cucumbers, sown 3/1, transplanted 4/1. Tomatoes, squash and cucumbers Credit Twin Oaks Community
  21. 21. West Indian gherkins • I first saw these unusual pickling cucumbers at Monticello. The origin of the variety is uncertain, but the seed was probably brought to Virginia by people enslaved by Thomas Jefferson. • West Indian Gherkins are very heat tolerant and disease resistant. • They are resistant to Peanut Root Knot Nematodes, which is why we started growing them. Photo Nina Gentle
  22. 22. West Indian Gherkins • These gherkins do not cross with regular cucumbers, nor with watermelon (although the leaves resemble watermelon leaves) • We trellis them in our hoophouse (they are very sprawling long vines, left to their own devices.) • We harvest one end of the row for pickling and one end for seed • We sow 3/31, transplant 4/21, harvest picklers starting 6/12 and pick the seed crop 9/28 – 10/2. • Photo Bridget Aleshire
  23. 23. Squash and zucchini Our goal is earliness, so we choose a fast-maturing variety. Gentry summer squash, sown 3/1, transplanted 4/1 in the center of a bed of Bulls Blood beets. Note wire hoop for night time rowcover on cold nights. Credit Kathryn Simmons
  24. 24. Melons • We tried late melons our first summer, but they didn’t do well. • We sowed the melons (cantaloupe and watermelons) in pots 6/1 and transplanted 7/1 • They failed because the earlier yellow squash and cucumber plants had enticed in lots of striped cucumber beetles and the melon transplants got gobbled up before they grew their 4th leaf. (Demonstrating once again the importance of crop rotation!) Delicious 51 Muskmelon and Crimson Sweet Virginia Select watermelon. Credit Southern Exposure Seed Exchange
  25. 25. Early green beans We choose an upright bush variety, such as Strike, and sow 3/15. We harvest from 5/9. We clear them 6/15. We have found the edge beds too cold for beans, so if the rotation would put the beans in one of those, as it did this year, we forsake beans and sow something else (beets for example) Photo credit Kathryn Simmons
  26. 26. Baby ginger • Fresh baby ginger sells at $9- $20/pound. • A yield of 8:1is good. 4:1 is poor. You could get 17:1 • It needs a heated space from mid-March to mid-May, while the plants are young. • You can save the highest yielding, good shaped roots for next year’s Mother Roots. • To overwinter ginger, it must remain planted in soil/media and soil temps should not fall below 54-57°F (12-14°C). Below 50°F the roots will die. Ginger in the hoophouse. Credit Kathryn Simmons Virginia State University is working on tissue cultured ginger to supply planting material
  27. 27. Growing ginger • Calculate how much to buy. Rate is about 30 lbs per 100 feet, with one seed piece every 5” (250 pieces, allowing 10% extra). • Seed pieces are about 3-4” with a bud/eye/node, and average 2oz. each. Each hand has 4-8 pieces. • Start in mid-March in zone 7. Wipe off any surface mold. Cut mother roots into pieces, each with a bud. Cut at a branching place. Keep out of direct sun. • Cure for 1 week at 55-90°F to seal the cut surfaces. Photo Credit Kathryn Simmons
  28. 28. Pre-sprouting ginger roots in crates Photo credit East Branch Ginger • March 24-April 1 - When buds are obvious, plant in shallow crates or plastic seed flats. 250 pieces at 21 pieces per flat = 12 flats. Compost with pH 5.5-6.7. 2-3”deep, not more, it does not need full coverage. • Keep at 70-80°F (night min in high 40’s) in a warm germination chamber. Can stack pre-leafing to save space, but flats will then need a shelf each. • Don’t overwater. Growth is slow until conditions warm up. • April 7ish - When leaves emerge (one week?), move crates out into well-lit greenhouse for 4-5 weeks. Use a tent inside the greenhouse? • Consider pre-warming the hoophouse bed now, using black plastic, rowcover or plastic low tunnels.
  29. 29. Planting ginger in the hoophouse • May 10 - When hoophouse soil is 55°F and rising (check first thing in the morning), transplant at 5” in-row, rows 24” apart. • Ginger grows OK in the shade of other plants, it does not like extreme heat. • Dig a 4” trench, add compost, position seed pieces, cover with 1” soil, not more. Protect from frost. Don’t overwater early on. • Ginger is day-length sensitive so it is important to plant during this window. • The hands all grow oriented in the same direction. Ginger grows out & up into the hill. • After 4-6 weeks, when base of shoots turn bright pink (poke under the soil to see) feed and hill the roots with 2-4” soil. • Yields will be lower if you do not to hill or fertilize. Check for signs of hunger throughout the season: leaf tip burn, yellowing leaves, slow shoot growth early in the season, slow rhizome growth later in the season, leaves not unfurling properly.
  30. 30. The ginger growing season • From July, once it is growing fast, water daily. If foliage curls slightly in the early afternoon then it needs to be watered immediately. • Feed and hill again 3 times more (every 2- 4 weeks) whenever roots are visible, with 2-3” soil. If no more soil is available, use mulch. Eventual hilling totals about 12”. • The most common diseases are Fusarium and bacterial wilts. • Watch out for pests, especially cutworm, katydids and grasshoppers. • 4 months from sprouting - It is possible to start harvesting baby ginger. Yields could be 3.5#/row ft. You’ll get more if you wait. Ginger. Photo Kathryn Simmons
  31. 31. Ginger harvest Photo credit East Branch Ginger • Harvest early to Mid-October (5 months after sprouting) before the soil temperature cools to 50-55°F. Baby Ginger has bright pink bud scales. These turn purple and hard over time. • For fresh sales, dig as needed. Dig and lift roots carefully. • Wash the roots using a hose. They have no skin so they can get scratched and damaged relatively easily. Trim off foliage half inch or more long. • Next let the roots dry for an hour or two, out of direct sunlight. • Refrigeration (34-45F) will turn ginger rubbery. OK to use for cooking, pickling, or candying another day, when rubbery is okay.
  32. 32. Turmeric and Galangal • Other tropical root crops. • Turmeric is not hilled. The rhizomes grow out and slightly downwards so will only need hilling an inch or two if the rhizomes appear above the soil during growth. • It needs less feeding than ginger. • Turmeric contains curcumins, which have valuable medicinal properties. • Planting rate is 6" between seed pieces. 10-16 pieces per pound. • Galangal (guh-lang-guh) looks like ginger but with a piney citrus flavor. Qualla Berry Farm Freshly harvested Turmeric, Photo http://www.quallaberryfarm.com
  33. 33. Jicama greenbeanconnection.wordpress.com • Jicama, a crunchy tuber, is not a quick-maturing crop, but it is vining and we grew it at the “back” (=north side), where it would not shade anything. • We came to the conclusion that we did not have hot enough conditions for long enough. If you are in zone 8 or 9, you might try it. • Seeds are available from Pinetree, and Baker Creek, who warn: “Takes a very long season, these must be started very early in all areas except the deep south. Caution: the seeds and pods are poisonous”.
  34. 34. Peanuts • We tried peanuts (sown 7/1), in our hoophouse, but they didn’t produce well, • Perhaps they were too hot and dry, perhaps the soil was not fertile or loose enough, perhaps the voles found them. • They have potential to be a good hoophouse crop. • Peanuts can grow OK outdoors where we are in central Virginia, and they take about 120 days, so we decided they didn’t deserve the space inside. • In general, we have found legumes to be a good group of summer hoophouse food crops for us. Carwiles Virginia peanut. Credit Southern Exposure Seed Exchange
  35. 35. Cowpeas • A useful high summer crop, cowpeas can be sown later than outdoors, to provide a succession following on from outdoor crops or for seed or dry soup beans. • We sow in mid-June to mid-July, when we pull up our early warm- weather crops such as cucumbers, early tomatoes and squash. • We can harvest to eat in late September through early October. • Or keep for seed beans in late October/early November - This is just when we want to transplant our winter salads and greens. Mississippi Silver cowpeas. Credit Kathryn Simmons
  36. 36. Cowpeas • We like Mississippi Silver and Carolina Crowder. • We sow 2 rows in a 4’ bed in mid July, • We install a 5’ stake each side of the planting every 6- 10 feet, and use twine every foot up the stakes in a modified single-sided Florida weave to make a “corral” around the planting. A July sowing of Carolina Crowder peas in our hoophouse. Photo Nina Gentle
  37. 37. Cowpea string-weaving cats cradle How we support the cowpeas in our hoophouse. Photo Nina Gentle
  38. 38. Shelling beans Black Turtle beans. Credit Southern Exposure Seed Exchange • We’ve also had good results with shelling beans (soup beans). We grew King of the Early, sown 7/13 and harvested from late September - mid October, when we let the last pods dry out for seed. • We don’t like putting up big trellises, so we now choose bush type beans. Bush varieties also allow the sunlight to better reach the north side of the house.
  39. 39. Edamame • Humid climates and September hurricanes can make for ugly spotty bean pods outdoors in late summer. • Growing them in the hoophouse means beautiful pods. This matters particularly for edamame, where the diners see the pods. • Edamame have the advantage of being a crop that is picked all at once –you do not want a crop that requires slow daily harvesting in high summer in your hoophouse, unless you live in the far north. • We like Envy edamame, a short bush type that matures quickly. We sow July 27 and harvest October 4- 13, or November 9 for seed. Envy edamame. Credit Kathryn Simmons
  40. 40. Flowers • Research is being done at Virginia State University and elsewhere. Hoophouses can boost production, and improve quality. See the Association for Specialty Cut Flower Growers and other resources listed. • Flowers grown in hoophouses are protected from battering winds, rain, deer and to some extent Japanese beetles. • In the south east, in the period from July to September, cut flowers can be scarce. • You can have Campanula blooming at the end of July. • Campanula latifolid — Photo: monteregina
  41. 41. Seed Crops • Hoophouses can be a great place to grow seed crops. • According to Nancy Bubel, in the Seed Starter’s Handbook, bean seed usually matures 6 weeks after the beans were tender and good to eat, and are ready when your teeth can scarcely make a dent in a sample bean. It seems to me that maturing happens faster in a hoophouse. Queen Anne cowpea seed crop. Credit Southern Exposure Seed Exchange
  42. 42. Reasons to grow seed crops • On the east coast it is hard to grow “dry” seed crops - legumes, lettuce, spinach, beets (as opposed to “wet” seed crops inside fruits, like tomatoes, melons), because of the humidity and rainfall. • Inside a hoophouse the hotter air can hold more water without causing damp plants. Additionally, the walls of the hoophouse provide a partial physical barrier to prevent cross-pollination. • Seed growing could become an important income opportunity for organic growers, as it is an expanding market. Contact small local seed companies
  43. 43. More on seed crops • You could start by growing one or two seed crops for yourself. Growing seed for use on your own farm is valuable, as you can select plants that grow especially well on your farm, and save on costs. • When you are ready to grow a commercial seed crop, contact seed companies before the start of the season, to agree a contract. Southern Exposure Seeds, my neighbors and our sister community, contracts with many small seed growers. They have a wealth of information to support their growers, with a Seed Growers Guide for many of the families of crops. See the Resources section. • Read up about seed-growing, and the isolation distances required for your particular crop. Cucurbits need as much as ¼ mile from other flowering plants of the same type, whereas tomatoes only need 180’. • Grow a large enough population of plants to ensure genetic diversity. With self-pollinators (in-breeders) such as beans, 20 plants may be enough, but for out-breeders (cross-pollinators), 100 are needed, in order to avoid in-breeding depression.
  44. 44. Cover Crops • Hoophouse growing burns up the organic matter in the soil at a fast rate. If you don't need to grow another cash crop in the summer, you could grow cover crops to replenish the organic matter, ready for your next fall plantings. • Short term, manageable, fast-growing cover crops are what are needed, – Clovers are too slow. – Winter cereal grains won't grow in the summer. – Beware of huge hot weather grain crops, like Sorghum-sudan. • Buckwheat, soy, cowpeas and the shorter millets all work well • Because of harlequin bugs, we avoid growing brassicas as cover crops, but if you don't have this pest, brassicas may be a good choice, as they have a biofumigation effect on the soil, tackling some soil- borne diseases. But on the other hand, if you grow lots of winter greens, brassica cover crops might be a poor idea, even without Harlequin bugs. Buckwheat photo Southern Exposure Seed Exchange
  45. 45. Drying and curing • Dry seed crops grown outside, luffas, or flowers or ornamental grasses for winter arrangements, (experiment first to make sure they don’t bleach too much in the sun, or use thick brown paper bags). • To cure onions or garlic in your hoophouse shade heavily (80%), so that you can be sure the temperature won’t go above 90F - they cook. • Some growers use hoophouses in the fall to cure winter squash or sweet potatoes. We don’t do that because we are very actively planting in the hoophouse in October when the bulk of our winter squash come in. (Actually we don’t cure them at all). Sweet Potatoes need temperatures of 80-95F to cure, and need to stay above 55F even for storage. Our nights get too cold for keeping sweet potatoes in our hoophouse. Garlic and onions curing in a shaded hoophouse. Credit Southern Exposure Seed Exchange
  46. 46. Soil solarization • If you have pests or diseases in your winter crops, and can live without use of your hoophouse for a month you could close up the whole house, and let the soil heat up to kill off bugs and fungal spores. Or cover a bed with clear plastic. • Control is generally obtained down to 6”. For best results, grow a mustard crop just before your planned solarization, and incorporate the residues, which will act as a pesticide. Cook for 6 hot weeks. • Ideally, prepare the bed before solarization, to minimize disturbance of the soil after solarizing, which would bring up new weed seeds and pests. Photo credit Kathryn Simmons
  47. 47. Biofumigation When heated in the solarization process, mustards release volatile compounds very effectively. Different mustards do different jobs. Mighty Mustard offers three varieties: • Kodiak (Brassica juncea): Suppresses soilborne fungal pathogens and nematodes, produces more biomass than other varieties • Pacific Gold (Brassica juncea): Reduces soilborne fungal pathogens, nematodes • IdaGold (Sinapis alba): Suppresses weeds. Photo credit Mighty Mustard
  48. 48. De-salinization Photos from Iowa State University • Salts can build up and damage crops, especially if your soil doesn’t drain well, or if you use animal manures (or synthetic fertilizers). • Salinity is visible as a white crust on the soil. You can test with an electrical conductivity meter. • Symptoms are like drought-stress – poor seed germination, poor plant growth. Excess salts can also encourage some pests. • If salinity has become a problem, you could – Do all your winter watering with a hose – or cultivate the soil and flush out the salts by flooding, using sprinklers. – or remove the plastic for a while and let rainfall solve the problem • After that, avoid more slat build-up - improve soil drainage; switch to vegetable-based composts and more cover crops.
  49. 49. Sowing when soils are hot 1. Consult the tables in Nancy Bubel’s New Seed Starter’s Handbook or Knott’s Vegetable Grower’s Handbook, on the germination requirements for your crop, and the expected time to emergence under your field conditions – and use a soil thermometer. 2. If soil temperatures are too high for good germination, cool a small area: – Use shade from other plants, shadecloth, boards, burlap bags, – For crops you normally direct seed, consider cooling a small nursery bed for your seedlings and transplanting later. 3. If outdoors is impossible, start seeds indoors and transplant: – Put a plastic flat of lettuce in your refrigerator or a cool room. – Use plug flats or soil blocks rather than open flats, to reduce transplant shock.
  50. 50. Warm weather pest control • Encourage beneficial insects and spiders. • Zipper spiders are our friends! (Argiope aurantia). They eat any insect or small critter that gets stuck in their webs. • But our worst warm weather pest is underground: Root Knot Nematodes
  51. 51. Root Knot Nematodes, Virginia • Peanut Root Knot Nematodes have been popping up in sections of beds since 2010. • We took the bed out of production and grew a sequence of nematode- suppressing cover crops: French marigolds, white lupins, sesame, wheat, Iron Clay cowpeas. • We solarized from June to September • 64°F is the threshold soil temperature for nematode reproduction • Our current approach is to have two years of resistant crops, followed by one year of somewhat-susceptible crops • Resistant crops: Kale, Yukina Savoy and radishes in winter; West Indian gherkins, Mississippi Silver or Carolina Crowder cowpeas in summer. Photo Credit University of Maryland Plant Diagnostic Laboratory
  52. 52. Root Knot Nematodes, Hawai’i • Gerry Ross, Maui, Hawai’i explained to me the rotation they are experimenting with to keep root knot nematodes at a manageable level. Nematodes are a fact of life there. • Their high tunnel is covered with insect cloth rather than plastic – they don’t need more heat. • In the hotter summer weather, they grow cukes, tomatoes, zukes, and peppers. • Then they switch to nematode-suppressant sunn hemp-Piper sudan cover crop for about 45 days • then to a winter rotation of brassicas with peas and cukes. • They mow the brassicas down after about a month when it starts to get warm, and harvest is over and plant directly into the debris with the warm weather crops again. Photos courtesy of Gerry Ross Kupa'a Farms.org
  53. 53. Resources: Books  High Tunnels: Using Low Cost Technology to Increase Yields, Improve Quality, and Extend the Growing Season by Ted Blomgren, Tracy Frisch and Steve Moore. University of Vermont Center for Sustainable Agriculture. $15 or on the web: http://www.uvm.edu/sustainableagriculture/hightunnels.html  Walking to Spring by Alison and Paul Wiediger http://aunaturelfarm.homestead.com/bookorderform.html  The Hoophouse Handbook from www.GrowingforMarket.com  The Complete Know and Grow Vegetables, J K A Bleasdale, P J Salter et al.  Knott’s Handbook for Vegetable Growers, Donald N. Maynard and George J. Hochmuth. The 2012 edition is free online from Missouri Extension  The New Seed Starter’s Handbook, Nancy Bubel, Rodale Books  The New Organic Grower, Eliot Coleman, Chelsea Green  Managing Cover Crops Profitably, SARE http://sare.org/publications/covercrops/covercrops.pdf  The Flower Farmer by Lynn Byczynski from www.GrowingforMarket.com
  54. 54. Resources: More good books (I have reviewed many of these books on my blog at www.sustainablemarketfarming.com)  The Market Gardener: A Successful Grower’s Handbook for Small-Scale Organic Farming, Jean-Martin Fortier, New Society Publishers  Gardening When it Counts, Steve Solomon, New Society Publishers  The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook, Richard Wiswall, Chelsea Green  Sustainable Vegetable Production from Start-up to Market, Vern Grubinger, NRAEShttp://host31.spidergraphics.com/nra/doc/fair%20use%20web%20p dfs/nraes-104_web.pdf  The Lean Farm, How to Minimize Waste, Increase Efficiency, and Maximize Value and Profits with Less Work Ben Hartman  The Urban Farmer, Curtis Stone, New Society Publishers  Greenhouse and Hoophouse Grower's Handbook – Organic Vegetable Production Using Protected Culture, Andrew Mefferd, Chelsea Green  Market Farming Success: The Business of Growing and Selling Local Food, Lynn Byczynski
  55. 55. Articles • Growing For Market May 2005 has an article by Steve Moore on summer hoophouse use in PA. • Growing For Market June 2008 has an article I wrote “The Hoophouse in Summer” • Growing For Market February and March 2009 Seed Growing articles • Growing for Market November 2014, Nematodes in the Hoophouse • Growing For Market August 2008 and November 2011 Ginger • Ginger SARE Reports by Melissa Bahret, Greenhouse Ginger Cultivation in the Northeast: http://mysare.sare.org/mySARE/ProjectReport.aspx?do=view Proj&pn=FNE06-564 and http://mysare.sare.org/mySARE/ProjectReport.aspx?do=view Proj&pn=FNE07-596
  56. 56. Web Resources  The HighTunnels website has information on construction, warm weather crops and much else: http://hightunnels.org/for-growers/  Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture Hoop House How-To. Low cost DIY small hoophouse. http://kerrcenter.com/organic-farm/hoop-house/  The Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers http://ascfg.org/  ATTRA www.attra.ncat.org has a lot of good publications on many aspects of sustainable and organic agriculture.  Soil Solarization Homepage: http://agri3.huji.ac.il/~katan  Soil Solarization University of California: http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn74145.html  Southern Exposure Seed Exchange www.southernexposure.com wonderful link for Seed Saving Resources: http://homepage.tinet.ie/~merlyn/seedsaving.html  Saving Our Seeds website has information on isolation distances, seed processing techniques, where to get manuals on growing specific seeds, and links to more information: www.savingourseeds.org
  57. 57. Supplies Klerk’s Kool Lite Plus plastic. http://www.gpnmag.com/greenhouse-structures- article2267 Robert Marvel Plastics for Solaroof: www.robertmarvel.com Shade Cloth and grommets: Gemplers www.gemplers.com or www.pakunlimited.com or GreenTek, Inc http://www.green-tek.com/
  58. 58. Resources for Ginger and Turmeric Alison and Paul Wiediger http://aunaturelfarm.homestead.com/High-Tunnel-Ginger.html Reza Rafie and Chris Mullins at Virginia State University https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auayx8l_M04 http://www.vsuag.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Ginger- Day-Presentation-2014.pdf College Of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, University of Hawai’i at Manoa http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/oc/freepubs/pdf/scm-8.pdf Puna Organics and Biker Dude to buy seed ginger in November http://www.hawaiianorganicginger.com/how-to-order. Turmeric and galangal also available Growing For Market August 2008, November 2011 http://www.quallaberryfarm.com Appalachian grown ginger, turmeric and galangal in season.
  59. 59. Resources - slideshows Many of my presentations are available at www.Slideshare.net. Search: Pam Dawling.  Cold-hardy Winter Vegetables  Crop Planning for Sustainable Vegetable Production  Crop Rotations  Fall and Winter Hoophouses  Fall Vegetable Production  Growing Great Garlic  Growing Sweet Potatoes from Start to Finish  Producing Asian Greens  Succession Planting for Continuous Vegetable Harvests Other slide shows I recommend:  www.SlideShare.net Search for Paul and Alison Wiediger
  60. 60. The Hoophouse in Spring and Summer ©Pam Dawling 2017 Twin Oaks Community, Central Virginia Author of Sustainable Market Farming SustainableMarketFarming.com facebook.com/SustainableMarketFarming

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