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A Hoophouse on the Horizon, Part 4: Learning Curve

| 9/22/2011 11:58:10 PM

During this summer growing season I have had my first experience growing plants in my hoophouse. It has been exciting to see veggies flourish in that environment. Some things have been surprising, and other things I expected. There is a lot to learn about how to grow in the hoophouse and also what to grow, when to grow, and how to manage.

Peppers do not like heat? 

When the hoophouse went up, the floor of it was still in grass. I quickly started covering all the grass with remnant pieces of plastic sheeting that covered the hoophouse. I was amazed at how quickly the grass died from the heat and being covered with the clear plastic. Killing the grass so that the sod could decompose over the rest of the summer was important as I am hoping to disc the soil up this fall. I soon bought a roll of clear 4mil plastic and covered a section and planted 30 pepper plants. These pepper plants suffered through the heat all summer and are only now recovering and producing. I was surprised that they couldn't take the heat. But, the heat we endured this summer was remarkable, and it stayed even hotter in the hoophouse. The endwalls and side curtains of the hoophouse were always completely opened up and it was still sweltering in its interior! After peppers I planted tomatoes, which I lost nearly half. That, too, was due to the high heat.

hoophousecukesCucumbers love the heat? 

I didn't have much of a plan this summer, other than just wanting to fill the hoophouse with some plants and get a feel for how things worked out there and what would grow good. My neighbor shared some cucumber seeds that he had bought that in the description said that they grew well in hothouse conditions. So, I tried them and they took off! I started some other cucumbers and they grew well, too. I also planted some watermelon and cantaloup. All of these plants grew well and never wilted even on the hottest of the hot days. I was surprised by this because in the garden all these plants normally wilt during the heat of the day.

The cukes and cantaloup grew and set on fruit very well. The cucumbers have been crisp and sweet and the cantaloup have been the sweetest I have had all year. I just gathered the last cucumbers and cantaloup this week and am in the process of tearing them all out to make way for fall garden plants.

Ellen Klaus
5/30/2012 5:50:55 PM

I have just been googling aphid infestation in hoop houses and came across your blog. We have a huge infestation...started with lettuce. I noticed it too late...spread to our potatoes and tomatoes. Just opened up a box of lady bugs and hope that will help. All I have used previously is insecticidal soap, which works, but I have a 30 x 14 hoop house and it's not practical. Did your aphids cycle out eventually? Did they return? I'm concerned about eggs staying in soil. It's so frustrating!

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