Mini hoop house...what to plant?

Violet_Skies_(5b S.Central WI)November 14, 2007

I am building a mini hoop house over my 4 x 8' raised bed garden. What can I plant in it now? I have never tried doing this in the fall, but I have had beautiful results getting things going very early in the spring..I have seeds for just about everything, so let me know what you think would work now and into the winter. My yard has full sun.

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At this time of year you can only plant things like claytonia, spinach, etc, the very hardiest of plants. And even then, only expect the claytonia to do any real growing.

Unfortunately, for a winter harvest, you really need to have planted in August and September and let the plants get to nearly-harvest size before the really cold weather and lower light levels slow the growth to nearly nothing. This year I was late planting seeds so I only have a few mustard, spinach, and carrots, but I was able to find transplants of lettuce, chard, and kale that I put in the first week in September. The kale was hit hard by cabbage worms and aphids early on, but I managed to wash them off and left the cold frame open for a frosty night--that finally did the bugs in, and the plants look great now. The lettuce is a bit sparse because I have been harvesting heavily, expecting a really hard freeze (common here just before/after Thanksgiving), and the lettuce isn't as hardy as kale and spinach. I've never grown chard in my fall/winter garden, so I don't know how hardy it will be, so I'll be making a big harvest this weekend for some braised chard.

In about February, start planting your spring greens in the hoop house, as you can get to it. We don't have much snow cover here, so I can get to my cold frame/hoop house just about any time.

My fall/winter garden is in my front garden (the south side of my house) so I can reach it conveniently. As I said, I was late planting this year, so I don't have any turnips and winter radishes (I grow black Spanish winter radishes, although I intend to try some new ones next year), and not enough carrots or spinach. I haven't tried claytonia or corn salad, in spite of hearing good things about them. I plant peas in that bed in the spring to help it recover from the heavy feeding greens, then apply compost in late summer and start over again.

My early spring garden is in the back yard, on a south-facing slope that is sunny before the trees leaf out, but shady during most of the summer and early fall (therefore not suitable for the fall-garden growing season). I have the ribs of the hoop house up already, but will only put the plastic on in late January or early February, depending on the weather.

Hope that helps some


    Bookmark   November 15, 2007 at 7:59AM
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Violet_Skies_(5b S.Central WI)

That helped a ton, just what I needed to know. :-)Thanks...I think I will shoot for a very early crop in the spring rather than try to start something fall I will get things going earlier in the late summer for a fall crop, so I can try to extend my season.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2007 at 9:37AM
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faithling(z4 VT)

There's no reason not to try planting now if you've got extra seed. If it germinates and survives the winter, you'll have an earlier start on your spring crop.

I'd recommend planting the mustard family greens now (arugula, mizuna, etc.) since they germinate faster than spinach, lettuce and other greens so might have a better chance of getting established before the ground freezes. I will be planting some this week too.

Watch the claytonia -- it's really invasive. But it happily grows in winter so is worth having around. Just be prepared to manage it. Mache, on the other hand, doesn't germinate easily (at least for me) and grows excruciatingly slow, so if I can't get any started in early fall, I don't bother planting it again.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2007 at 7:14AM
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