Hoop House Transformation


| 5/13/2014 9:24:00 AM


Winter Greens

The hoop house on our farm has two seasonal looks. In autumn, after we clear out tired summer tomato plants, we plant some winter greens. Lettuce, arugula, bok choi, Chinese cabbage, kale, scallions. Healthy cold-tolerant crops that feed me all the winter. Buttery leaf lettuce and delicate arugula filled my salad bowl in December. Bok choi was still tender in January. Kale chips and green smoothies sustained me through February. I am deeply grateful.

Winter does special things to greens. A touch of cold sweetens kale, and the arugula is barely spicy. We eat young fresh bok choi through the cold months. I plant extra bok choi to keep in the hoop until it produces little shoots that look just like broccoli. I harvest them at that point and they are delicious! They need to be snapped off or the plant will bolt and flower. Keeping them harvested, though, the plant keeps producing the sprouting broccoli shoots. Raw like salad, or sautéed lightly, they are a delicious sprouted green shoot. A bonus veggie from the winter bok choi plants.

Bokchoi

I was amazed that the winter greens survived our unusually cold Maryland winter, with temperatures steady in the mid-teens. We covered the crops with thick row cover on those coldest nights. We have had crops die in the hoop from frost damage in past years, so the row cover must have served us well. Another trick for coldest nights is to water heavily at night or run the driptape all night. The water, instead of the plant, absorbs the cold energy. This technique is used in Florida orchards during cold snaps.



When we first set up the hoop a few years ago, I thought I would resent the extended season. I would resent the additional work that would need to be done. I would resent the opportunity or demand to tend plants during the winter season, when I usually take a much-needed break from fieldwork. I would resent the same opportunity when it rains—I would lose my excuse to take a rainy day off farming. I prepared myself to just say no to the hoop when I really need a break. This farming thing could get a bit too intense year-round. Sometimes a girl just needs a break.





Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).


Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters