What we did Sunday Afternoon

melvalenaJanuary 20, 2014

The ice storm back in Dec killed all my swiss chard. I decided it was time to do something about that... I researched and planned it all week then purchased the materials. Sunday morning I called the grandkids to come help build it.

It worked out great. It needs some tweaking for next year but should work for the rest of what's left of our winter and early spring. Right now, at noon its 81 degrees in there. I don't expect much protection over night, but its better than nothing.

I've planted pretty hardy greens, some fall root things and some sugar snap peas. I purchased some broccoli plants that I've just set in there to be planted in ground in about 4 - 6 weeks. We'll see how they do.

Getting started I topped off the beds, and put one of the pvc poles in place to get an idea of how tall the structure would be. Also made my grid for planting seeds.

Then I planted my seeds, put the tomato cages in for the sugar snap peas, and watered the beds. The grand boys placed the rest of the pvc poles and got started on the plastic.

Here are my guys working on the plastic:

and here it is, all finished:

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carrie751(z7/8 TX)

Wow, great job....... looks as if this may do the trick.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 1:37PM
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melvalena

Yes,
I think it will at least keep the ice and snow off the plants.

It doesn't do much for keeping them warm over night so I'm looking into a source of warmth for those times it gets really cold.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 9:10AM
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carrie751(z7/8 TX)

I have one of the very small electric heaters with a controlled thermostat in my greenhouse, and that one heater has sufficed for me for what?, four season now.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 11:34AM
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melvalena

good to know Carrie. My space isn't nearly as large as yours so I won't need much.

I plan to head to tractor supply in Denton to see what they have.

According to their website they have a thermostatically controlled outlet that I can hook up to a cheapy heater or I might be able to find a heater similar to yours.

Here is a link that might be useful: Thermo Cube Thermostatically Controlled Outlet

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 12:45PM
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melvalena

After doing some more reading up on this it is clear I won't be able to do much good putting a heater in there. The 6mil plastic won't hold the heat in when its really cold outside. I might as well be heating the whole yard!

Only way it would work is if I put another layer of plastic with an airspace between them. I have enough plastic but not the man power to accomplish the task between now and Thursday when we'll get hit with a blast of arctic cold.

So its going to remain an unheated hoop house and the plants and seeds are on their own. :)

I might be willing/able to string a light bulb in there and throw an old heavy comforter over the top to see what happens.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 2:28PM
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carrie751(z7/8 TX)

Gail, I'll bet that would work. There aren't going to be that many hours of below freezing this go 'round, so try it and see. Good luck !!!!

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 4:09PM
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roselee z8b S.W. Texas

What a nice set up! Just a comforter thrown over would work here by trapping the warmer ground temperature, but the ground might be colder there.

How's the knee doing? I've lost track of how long it's been.

Thanks for sharing your inspiration. I'm going to look for some cold tolerant green starts like kale and Swiss chard to plant. I usually do it earlier, but I guess it's not too late.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 7:30PM
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alameda/zone 8

That's a great setup. I did something similar with landscape timber raised beds over my daylily bed - except I put sun fabric on top as its in full, all day sun and this helps the young lilies in the heat of the summer.

For what its worth.....I have an electrician working at my place putting in automatic gate opener, extra lights in my horse barn, running wires to my greenhouse for heat. I asked him about what size extension cord I should use for the next few days when its due to get 23-24 degrees [he wont have the greenhouse set up until next week]. He told me that these heaters use lots of electricity and I would need an extension cord of the "AWG 12" gauge. Its thicker than the ones I had. Got it at Lowes and they are sure proud of it - cost $70. But if it will prevent the heater from burning up the wire......worth it. Thought this bit of information might be helpful to someone. I am asking the electrician lots of questions and getting a nice education about how to hook up things.

Heat lamps might work for your hoop houses - at least they would take the chill off and get you through the rest of the winter. Hope you will post some photos later when things are growing.
Judith

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 1:20AM
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melvalena

Hey Roselee and Judith!

Right now its 34* outside and inside the hoop house its 43*. I had planned to throw something over the top and clamp it down but right now my knee is telling me not to even attempt it!

Just got home from therapy.. progress always feels like a set back. The knee is never happy with breaking new ground!

So I'm taking it easy and not going to worry about this go 'round with the cold.

Nothing has sprouted as of yesterday. The cold is only going to keep things as they are. No worries.

Later today I will probably pull out the potted broccoli and put it in the garage. It can take a little bit of 24* temps if its in ground .. these aren't so they'll be put out in the garage for a while.

Hubby has nixed the idea of a small heater. He's concerned about fire hazard with them but he's ok with a light bulb or maybe a heat lamp.

If things sprout before the next cold front I'll be ready for it!

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 12:44PM
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melvalena

I managed to throw an old heavy comforter over the top and clipped it in place. It didn't quite go to the bottom and didn't cover the ends. I had my doubts it would do much once we got below freezing.
It stayed in the 40s inside while outside it was in the low 30s even as I went to bed last night.

This morning it was 16 outside but inside the hoop it was 26!

I think if I can get a second sheet of plastic or even a tarp to cover over the whole thing it would stay warmer and keep any rain, ice or snow from building up on it and not need any heat source at all since we usually don't get very cold for very long.

If we get any sun at all today it should get nice and toasty in there and I'll put the comforter over it again late afternoon to hold in as much warmth as possible. I'll dig around and find one of my huge tarps and put that on it too, just to see how well it holds the heat in.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 8:19AM
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PKponder TX(7b)

I came to re-read this after work and had to edit my post!

That is the most organized project with the laying out of the seed bed, all the tools and the willing young helpers! Right down to the neat tools and gloves on the table!

Sorry your knee is complaining, but that looks like a really busy day! I bow to your organization and great photos!

I used a hoop house with the 6 mil for a couple of winters for tropicals. I did use a tiny ceramic heater that we usually use in the tent for winter camping and threw a tarp over the whole thing when it was really cold. I never lost anything and we got snow a couple times although nothing prolonged like early December was. One winter, I covered a baker's rack with doubled 6 mil, put my 100 watt light in the bottom and weighed the edges with rocks...super low tech and hillbilly, but I kept my hardiest tropicals over the winter in there.

I'm glad that I have a bigger house now, because Mama's keeping her tropicals :-)

My cold frame is doing great right now with a 100 watt light bulb and a tarp when it's extra cold. Granted, it is better insulated than 6 mil. Made from our neighbor's old external french doors, it's double-paned glass and wood. I've got herb seedlings, tropical waterlilies, tropical canna, various succulents, Weenerdogg's stuff from the swap and Carrie's passionvine :-) The water lilies are using most of the space, I have a 30 gallon long aquarium for them.

This post was edited by pkponder on Fri, Jan 24, 14 at 20:31

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 3:12PM
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melvalena

Pam,
I'm so glad to hear your hoop house worked for you to keep tropicals. I can't believe how well this came together for me.

The kids loved helping and being a part of it. They're still young enough to have thoughts about building a 'fort' for themselves.

I'll be covering it with a tarp for the next cold front on the way,
but first I'll peek inside to see if anything dared to sprout!

The knee is getting better every day but it will be awhile before I reach my new 'normal'.

The new normal will be a bit less than the old normal -- but not enough to cause me any problems with day to day activities or my dancing. It could have been much worse.

Just took a peek inside. All is happy, no sprouts yet. Broccoli looks great and the radichio looks really happy.

This post was edited by melvalena on Sat, Jan 25, 14 at 12:08

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 10:53AM
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Lynn Marie

I was going to suggest that some old school Christmas lights might be enough to keep it above freezing since it is such a small area. Plus they have the added benefit of being designed for outdoor use, so they might be safer.

Oh, and Nice Job!

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 8:42AM
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crisslyon(8b)

A suggestion on heating. I paint milk jugs/cola jugs black, fill them with water then at night they release heat into my little greenhouse. It's small probably equal to your size. I have ten scattered around and my thermometer shows it staying about five degrees warmer at night. Has been working great so far for my broccoli and cauliflower seedlings. Although mine sits on a concrete pad so that's probably a factor too. Cheap fix here we don't drop much below freezing for very long very often.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 11:53AM
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melvalena

Lynnmarie and Crisslyon thanks for your suggestions.

If I could get to my christmas lights I'd give them a try. I have read about the water or milk jugs painted black and even some who say not to paint them but to use rit dye to color the water black. I might be able to dig a few of those out in the garage. They won't have time to warm up today so will do it next time we warm back up enough to lift the sides and slide them in.

Today we opened it up and watered. I saw 3 tiny sprouts that I think are going to be sugar snap peas if they grow up.
Or they could be weed seeds sprouting already!

We're about ready to close 'er up, lay the comforter back on top and then batten down the hatches with a tarp over the whole thing.
Winds should turn around 8pm tonight and the next cold front arriving shortly after.

It sure turned out to be a pretty day today.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 3:45PM
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PKponder TX(7b)

Can we get an update on the seedlings? How are the temps holding in the hoop house?

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 3:09PM
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melvalena

Some seedlings are still coming up in there. I covered it with a huge tarp the last time temps dropped below freezing. It still got cold in there but not as cold as the outside temps.

Once things warmed up again I took the comforter and tarp off for several says which meant I had to keep a close watch through out the day to open it up when it got up close to 90. I watered everything again yesterday.

Today I closed it back up and decided its too much trouble for me to put the tarp back on. My knee is giving me fits so I don't want to aggravate it any more than I have to. Those babies are on their own for the coming cold and wet.... they will survive or I'll have to re plant a little later.

I think this would work better if the plants were started last fall and were established now.

I'm sure its going to be pretty close to the outside temps but at least those seedlings and plants won't have the cold rain and ice on them.

I'll let you guys know how it does over night tonight.

Here's something I found while researching building the hoop house and thought what a great idea!

Here is a link that might be useful: cheap mini green house

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 7:12PM
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melvalena

We had cold rain most of the day yesterday. In the afternoon we had ice and sleet for awhile. It stayed about 38 inside the hoop house. Outside hovered between 38 and 33.

This morning it was 35 inside the hoop 32 outside.

I do have a thin fleece blanket over the top of it. There is still ice from the ice storm on top of the blanket and on our glass patio table.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2014 at 8:20AM
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carrie751(z7/8 TX)

It never ceases to amaze me, Gail, the difference in our weather when we live so near each other. I had very little rain, only a smattering of the "mix" (actually could be seen only on the pool cover), but my temps were lower than yours. It is 28 here this morning and dry.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2014 at 8:56AM
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PKponder TX(7b)

I'm sorry to hear that your knee is bothering you so much.

It will help the cool season plants just keeping the ice and frost off of them.

I'm not near either of you, but we have ice pellets on the ground, vehicles and roofs and it's 33 here this morning. I thought it was going lower last night!

    Bookmark   February 3, 2014 at 10:06AM
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melvalena

Update noonish... no sun yet today...

its 38 on my small covered back porch. Its 46 inside the hoop house. The ice is gone from the blanket on top but still sitting on the patio table. Everything has a full southern exposure.

Yes Carrie there is an amazing the difference between us.
It must be that I'm in suburb and you are more rural.
That answers for the temperature difference.. but not the precipitation! We're only about 3 miles apart.

Pam, I expected it to be much colder last night as well.

Unfortunately my knee will continue to be in issue for a while longer but I am getting better. Every time they bump me up to the next level it feels like I'm starting all over again! It doesn't get easier as we go. :(

But I know this is normal and something I have to go through to get back to as close to normal as I can get.

Pass me another rum and diet Pepsi, please! :)
and since you're up... would you put another ice pack on my knee? :)

    Bookmark   February 3, 2014 at 1:39PM
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PKponder TX(7b)

virtual ice pack settling in on your sore knee :-)

dark or light rum? I like spiced Capt Morgan :-) The Diet Pepsi is just job security.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2014 at 10:37PM
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melvalena

LOL! Rum is rum.. but I too prefer Capt Morgan Spiced Rum.

Thanks for the ice pack.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 8:17AM
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carrie751(z7/8 TX)

You two crack me up .......................

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 9:57AM
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melvalena

Spring is almost here Carrie! Hang in there.

All the eggnog is gone.. a rum and coke might make the wait a bit more pleasant. :)

I keep checking the hummer migration map site but they haven't put the one for 2014 up yet. :(

    Bookmark   February 5, 2014 at 9:00AM
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carrie751(z7/8 TX)

My friend Patrick in Seattle is fortunate enough to have hummers the year round said he saw two drinking out of the same opening this past week. I told him it was near Valentine's Day..................

    Bookmark   February 5, 2014 at 10:30AM
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melvalena

hahaha!

Wouldn't it be wonderful to have them year round?

    Bookmark   February 5, 2014 at 5:31PM
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carrie751(z7/8 TX)

Yes it would if it weren't for having to deice their food during freezing weather. He keeps two sets of feeders so one is ready to put out when he brings the outside ones in to thaw.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2014 at 10:09PM
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carrie751(z7/8 TX)

Hope your little plants are okay under their shelter on this miserably cold day here in North Texas. My "dusting" of snow has turned into an accumulation........how about at your house???

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 10:07AM
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melvalena

Yep.. its a little more than a dusting here too but should stop falling soon.

temp on back porch is 21.... inside the hoop house its 28 with no heat source. Yesterday it got up to about 51 in there but the high was only 38 out in the open.

I'm sure being protected from the snow and wind chill is a big help for what's in there. We'll see in a few days how they did.

It should be a little warmer this afternoon --but still way to cold for me!

Edit: I miss read the high for yesterday... thought it said 19 but it was actually 38.. so I changed it in the post above.

This post was edited by melvalena on Thu, Feb 6, 14 at 10:33

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 10:30AM
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carrie751(z7/8 TX)

It did not get above freezing here yesterday, Gail, and was fifteen under the protected patio this morning. Don't think it will get above freezing today either.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 11:04AM
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melvalena

Yep Carrie -- your place is always colder than it is here and we're only 3 miles apart.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 10:26PM
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melvalena

Woke up this morning and checked the temp inside the hoop house... dang it! its not reading.. must be too cold for the battery to register. or the battery died from the cold. :(

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 8:13AM
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PKponder TX(7b)

did the seedlings make it, Melvalena?

    Bookmark   February 9, 2014 at 11:58AM
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melvalena

Haven't looked. Don't want to let out any warmth that's trapped inside.

The thermometer started working again though.. Its just a hair warmer in there than it is outside on cloudy days. On sunny days it gets nice and toasty.

Once this blast of cold is over I'll take a look inside and see what everything looks like.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 1:47PM
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melvalena

Great news to report. !!!

Its 84* in there now. I just opened both ends of the hoop house to have a look. Everything looks great. There are lots of little sprouts up --looks like nearly everything except the swiss chard is poking through.

Even those small potted broccoli plants look great.

I'll leave it open for a few hours, water it all then close it up for the night late this afternoon.

This is going to be great for the fall garden transitioning to winter, I might be able to keep established plants producing through the winter this year.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 1:32PM
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PKponder TX(7b)

Yay!

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 9:39PM
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melvalena

Just opened her up to take a peak.. it is 75* in there and about 55 on the covered porch.

A few of the smaller things look like they have some freeze burns on the outer edges of their leaves BUT the plants themselves look great. I don't think I lost anything in there.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 2:47PM
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