Resolve to Build a Hoophouse This Year


It’s a new year, the traditional time for self-improvement resolutions. My resolution last New Year’s was to eat a salad from my garden every day, and it was a more successful resolution than most. Except for mid-summer, when scorching temperatures burned up most of the garden, we were able to pick salad greens every week from the garden or our hoophouses. Not to brag, but we had a pretty impressive ingredient list for our Christmas Day salad; you can see photos here.

                          Winter Hoophouse 

We’ve been growing in unheated hoophouses for a decade now, and we can’t recommend them highly enough for commercial growers. If you have any dreams of market farming, the first thing you should buy is a hoophouse. It’s quite amazing what a single layer of greenhouse poly on hoops can do to create the perfect growing environment. We can grow year-round in Kansas, Zone 5, and we get much better yield and quality from hoophouse vegetables.

Even if you’re not inclined toward market gardening, you can still have all the benefits of a hoophouse in your home garden. Home-built high tunnels and low tunnels are inexpensive and will easily pay for themselves in one season.

I put the pencil to a theoretical fall/winter low tunnel garden that would feed a family of four. I assumed it would be planted in September and would produce enough veggies for dinners for two to three months. For example, I figured you might feed your family broccoli twice a week; you could each eat a pound of carrots per week; and you might use 3 heads of lettuce a week. Altogether, I assumed you would grow a dozen kinds of vegetables that like cold weather: beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, endive, kale, lettuce, onions, radishes, spinach, and turnips.

I calculated the yield of my winter vegetable low tunnel (using the seeding and yield chart at Johnny’s Selected Seeds) and estimated the cost of buying that amount of produce at $3 per pound. The result: $500 worth of food from a $250 investment in just four months’ time from planting to end of harvest.

2/24/2012 5:48:53 AM This is the original inventor of the Hoophouse Bender and the best place to get benders for all types and sizes of hoophouses. Tell them Brad from Cloverleaf sent you!!

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