Hoophousing

May 20, 2011

Author: Neighborhood Farm Initiative

Category: General News

Are you ready to plant your garden? We’ve got home-grown, hoophouse-raised seedlings for you!

Here’s a picture of our new hoophouse, surrounded by spring blooms and greenery. The scene is a bit different than during construction (photos to your right).
Getting to the hoophouse is an adventure in itself, involving walking through a backyard guarded by a large barky dog and a small yappy dog and trekking across a (sometimes very muddy) field. Now that spring has sprung, it’s definitely worth the trouble! It’s a beautiful walk through all sorts of flowers and medicinal weeds, including dandelion, pokeweed, mugwort, and some giant, juicy plantain that I hope to harvest one of these days. (Plantago major, a leafy plant; not the banana-like fruit.)
Discovering the ins and outs of hoophouse management has been a serious learning curve over the past few months, as we’ve tried (and sometimes failed) to create optimal growing conditions for our plant babies. Cold March weather prevented the germination of most of our herbs, and a few extra-hot and sunny spring days fried a few of our tomato seedlings. To regulate the temperature inside the hoophouse, vents in the plastic siding need to be propped open or tightly closed. This means we have to keep our eyes on the weather forecast, and be available to adjust the vents accordingly. (Some days I’ve thought it would be much easier if I slept in a yurt next to the hoophouse!)
Despite our growing pains, our plant babies are thriving! We’ve got nearly 20 types of tomatoes, more than 10 types of peppers, plus beans, peas, squash, basil, dill, and parsley. Lots of these plants will be used for our educational programs. The rest are being sold at our plant sales, held every Saturday in May, 10:00am-1:00pm at Community Forklift in Edmonston, Maryland (right near Mt Rainier).
Come out and say hi, and take home some hoophouse seedlings for your garden!
Happy spring,
Hoophouse Manager Tricia
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