Monday, May 24, 2010

HOOP house heaven! (or why cold greenhouses are COOL!)

I wanted to update everyone on the status of our cold frame program to expand our produce production for year-round veggies.

We were approved for the USDA-approved program (previously outlined in one of my earlier posts), ordered our framing kit, and 3 days later, a huge pile of galvanized steel and plastic appeared on the farm.

The next 3 weeks of Loran's and Corey's lives were spent pounding posts, installing a baseboard, and finally, the 4 year plastic covering overlying our hoop house.

'Hoop house' is kind of a generic term referring to a rounded top structure that can be used for hay storage, animal housing, or as a greenhouse. Technically, we are building a cold greenhouse, or unheated greenhouse.

This type of year-round production was commonly practiced in Europe and the United States before the advent of transcontinental, and more recently, INTER-continental transport of vegetables.

By harvesting the solar radiation during the day, and covering beds at night to hold the heat into the soil ( a double-layer system), one can grow vegetables year-round, even in cold climates.

Elliot Coleman has forwarded this technique perhaps more than anyone else in the United States, and successfully grows vegetables year-round in his zone 5 (?) Maine cold greenhouse.

Granted, you aren't growing tomatoes in january, but rather, eating seasonally. Rather than dying off, some vegetables thrive and actually prefer the cool temperatures of winter gardening. Plants like carrots, beets, lettuce, chard, spinach, arugula, and radish all prefer cool to cold temperatures.

Naysayers comment that you can't feed the world using local production.

The fact of the matter is this is exactly how we did feed the world in a sustainable manner before the advent of 'modern' agriculture.

These type of production models (double insulated cold frames, unheated greenhouses, and garden cloches) were exactly how people produced healthy food throughout the season in colder climes and ate seasonally.

This allowed them to eat only what was at its best, not some sad resemblance of a cardboard tomato in January.

We are excited and happy to be providing our customers more and more options to factory-farming and their harmful ways to human health, the environment, animal welfare, and sustainability.




  1. How do you water, since the rain is not an option? Soaker hoses? Obviously that is a good thing, since snow would be likely in colder climates, not rain, haha.

    Also wondering, do the open ends of the hoop house affect it? Seems like the warmer air would escape through the ends.

    Love the blog!

  2. We will be closing the ends in and adding doors but in the hot summer months, you want some of the heat to escape or it would get much too hot.

    We use a drip irrigation for the whole garden inside and out.

    Because the plants in the greenhouse do not get splashed from the rain, they have much fewer problems with fungal disease and produce unblemished fruit.

    This works especially well for plants like tomatoes, sweet peppers, basil, cucmber, and summer squash.

  3. I was update ur blog to my fb account. Can you update any pipe threading machine manufacturers related article is more help to users.