Less Noise, More Green: Hoop House Dreams and Winter Stores Report

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Hoop House Dreams and Winter Stores Report

Like the rest of the northeast, we woke up yesterday to snow on the ground and freezing rain falling from the sky. Ugh. I looked out at my garden beds and my heart fell even further.

I knew this weather was coming, of course, and over the weekend I pulled up all the remaining turnips and rutabaga and harvested almost all of the curly kale. The brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli were no where near ready to be picked so they had to stay. The carrots would be fine.

Brussels Sprouts - will they survive?

I use fabric row covers in the fall on cool nights but I have not invested in plastic ones, which protect plants to much cooler temperatures. This is because I don't like the cold and row covers are not easy to manipulate, meaning harvesting is not a quick process. The result though, is crops that do not survive the winter. What to do?

The Winter Stores project I started here has forced me to really look at how much food I am growing in the fall and winter. When I see it on paper, and I look at the results of not committing to extending the season (such as yesterday's frozen half grown vegetables), I know I need to find a way to get around the cold. It also bothers me seeing all my empty beds and a food bill that is not getting any cheaper.

This cauliflower was forming a head, but was ravaged by slugs.

I hope I have found a solution and I am very excited about the idea! It involves some planning and some building skills from Computer Man, but I have many months to perfect the idea. What I need is a walk in hoop house that will fit over several of my beds. The design must be easy to assemble, and then easy to disassemble and store, as I have nowhere to store an assembled hoop house! What this will provide me is easy access to all my winter beds at once, without all the fuss. Maintenance and harvesting will be easy. I will just have to keep the path clear!

The inspiration came from Eliot Coleman. Coleman is a farmer in Maine, which is further north than Rhode Island. He has been growing food all year round using hoop houses and row covers for years and he is really the expert in the subject. He is a big proponent of moveable hoop houses, that can be moved from site to site as needed.

This is the kind of structure I envision:


What do you think? Do you use high hoop houses? Any advice ?

Winter Stores Report 

Eaten from the stores since Thanksgiving
Even though I don’t cook Thanksgiving dinner, we still come home with a lot of leftovers, which has meant we’ve eaten less from our stores. Here is the run down.
Breakfasts: cranberry muffins; jams;
Lunches:  Jams, Kale and cheese omelets, dill pickles.
Suppers:  Yaki Soba (sauted carrots, cabbage and onion) Eggplant Parmesan, corn on the cob, Pesto Pasta with peas and bacon, Lentil curry with rhubarb.

These broccoli plants were a second planting and were just starting to develop crowns.

 Inventory Remaining
Fresh (harvested)
 Cherry Tomatoes  (1/2 oz),Potatoes (1lb), Turnips (3), Rutabaga (2)
Fresh (in the ground)
Carrots (whole bed),Cabbage, green and red  (6),Scallions, Broccoli, Curly Kale, Red Russian Kale, Cauliflower (4), Brussels Sprouts,
Frozen vegetables and fruit
Bag roasted tomatoes (4), Corn on the Cob (2 ears)* Bag of 5 peeled and cored apples (5), 1lb Rhubarb* (2), Quart bag blueberries * (1.5), 1lb Strawberries* (2), 4oz Meyer Lemon Curd (3), 1.5 cups Kousa berry puree, 16oz Cranberries (1)*
*Locally grown

Red Russian Kale - I think may be too tender to bounce back from this snow.
16oz jar zucchini (1/2),  24oz jar dried tomatoes (3/4)
Frozen Meals
4oz pesto (2), 1 Pint green tomato curry sauce (5), Eggplant Parmesan (6 meals), Quart tomato sauce (1)
Jams (unopened)
8oz Strawberry (5), 16oz Blueberry (3), 8oz Rhubarb cinnamon (7), 16oz Meyer Lemon Marmalade (7), 8oz Meyer Lemon Marmalade (1), 16oz Blackcurrant (4), 8oz Blackcurrant (1)
Other (unopened)
16oz Apple Sauce (15), 16oz Dill pickles (3), 16oz Corn Relish (3)
Frozen Baked Items
Cranberry muffins (1)
See you in the hoop house!



  1. I can SO understand what you mean about finding an easy way to extend the season. We had the same weather as you did and I only had my kale and a few Brussels sprouts left in the garden. I haven't gone to check them, maybe tomorrow.

    I would love a hoop house, but living on the incline that we do, I don't think that is a possibility. I am going to do more research on row covers that you use with the rings to hold them in place over my raised bed.

    Can't wait to hear and see what you come up with.

  2. Sounds like a plastic row cover would work with your incline. I've seen lots of examples of them attached to raised beds. Winter is a great time to plan ahead!