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Greenhouse Gardening

April 11, 2013

Springtime in the Pacific Northwest on the wet side of the Cascades is normally wet and cool.  To get started in the garden you usually need to employ some type of season extending material or devices such as row cover, cold frames or hoophouses.  My choice has been the hoophouse, which works like a giant cold frame.  I’m the main grunt here, so dealing with row cover is too big a pain in my ass book; I have ratcheted my floating row cover use down to just crops that I think I can’t live without and that need that cover for an insect barrier.  As of now that list of crops is just salad turnips and daikon radish.  Oh, and in mid summer it works great for germinating carrots etc., as you can water right through it and not turn your soil into a brick… .  So I still use row cover, but not very much.


KolibriF1 kohlrabi

Basically I use my greenhouse space just like I would my outside garden areas.  The difference here is that I am manipulating the weather, not so much the cold, but the wet.  I have no hopes of planting in my outside gardens until May because it is just too wet.  If I did, I would risk ruining my soil structure, and the weeding chores would be nigh impossible.  We are harvesting kale buds and tender leaves outside right now by the boat load, but those plants were established last summer and are well ahead of any weeds that would germinate and takeover.

Cilantro volunteer

Cilantro volunteer

To start the gardening season off I direct seeded kohlrabi, carrots and beets in late March and they are now making their appearance.

Nasturtium volunteer

Nasturtium volunteer

We’ve gardened in this space for quite a few years, so edible volunteers always make an appearance and are welcomed. 😀

Detroit Dark Red beets

Detroit Dark Red beets

NapoliF1 carrot

NapoliF1 carrot


Salad bed

I use the purlins in the greenhouse for my tomato trellising, and plant my tomatoes on four-foot centers, which leaves me quite a bit of room for succession planting throughout the spring, summer and fall.  Even though the greenhouse is very warm, the tall tomatoes shade the salad greens, and give me more cropping space.

Joi ChoiF1 bok choy

Joi ChoiF1 bok choy

The seeding and potting on continues as the full garden season approaches.  I never once have regretted building a hoophouse; it gives us food security in that we can get our garden started early and ripen some marginal crops late in the season, and I can get my gardening fix no matter what the weather outside is doing.

flowers and herbs

flowers and herbs


13 Comments leave one →
  1. Katharina permalink
    April 11, 2013 9:10 am

    That is one big hoophouse you’ve got. I think it’s bigger than my house 🙂 I learn so much from you. Thank you.

  2. April 11, 2013 10:06 am

    Great Post – love to have a green house! Happy Gardening:)

  3. April 11, 2013 12:10 pm

    Your gardening and pasture explanations have helped us a lot even though we are down here in Alabama with differernt weather. Yet, we get a lot of help from your experiences. Thanks for sharing! Sarah Corson

  4. Ben permalink
    April 11, 2013 1:37 pm

    This is our first spring with our new hoophouse for row crops. Loving it. Started seeded in mid Feb and have been harvesting and selling out of it for 3 weeks now. And you were right, I want a bigger one now! 🙂

  5. Theresa Katuski permalink
    April 11, 2013 8:24 pm

    Hello again. If I had a hoop house like that I would never leave it!

    Does it have heat? Wondering, when you first start toms, how do you do it? In a flat, or in individual pots?

    • April 11, 2013 9:04 pm

      Theresa, no heat, so nighttime temps are about the same as outside.

      I start the tomatoes in 200 cell flats, on a heat mat and transplant to 4″ pots when they get their first true leaves.

  6. Mich permalink
    April 12, 2013 2:10 am

    After a very wet year and land drain issues which have yet to be figured out….I’m moving my entire veg garden.
    This season I will make the most of the current one whilst preparing the new plot, which is bigger and away from the house so i will be having a polytunnel (hoop house). Yay.

  7. April 12, 2013 3:48 am

    I actually have several hoop houses on my property used for other purposes. One has bird netting over it and serves as a pen/yard area for my turkeys. The other has tin over it and serves as a shed. The third that functioned as a true greenhouse we took down last year to reconstruct in a different area and hope to get back up this year. I find that we only used it for seedling germination rather than a season extender. I have gotten away from row cover all together because we have lots of winds in the spring and always seemed to be chasing it no matter how well fastened down it was.

  8. Catofstripes permalink
    April 12, 2013 5:21 am

    I have deep envy for your polytunnels and this only makes it worse 🙂 Got to be done.

    Thanks for a great blog, I really enjoy it.

  9. April 13, 2013 7:33 pm

    A hoop house would be lovely… we settle for a potting shed for starts, and then move trays to a small cold frame. We can hardly keep up with moving things through for our CSA plantings, even though we’re a small CSA… Inspiring anyway–which is a better response than envy!

  10. stayathomemummy permalink
    April 15, 2013 2:18 am

    I love seeing all of the seedlings coming up! Lovely photos especially all those colourful flowers!

  11. April 15, 2013 7:18 am

    We’re putting up a hoophouse this spring: huzzah! Any recommendations, any “wish I would have done this differently” that you might want to share? I can’t wait! Love all your pix!

    • April 16, 2013 5:15 am

      Amy, congrats! We’ve built several and finally this one is the one. The only change we made was wider doors for tractor work. 🙂

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