You can have fresh home-grown vegetables all year with a Hoop House!
Here in Zone 5, I plant our hoop house crops in late September, so now is the time to get my plans firmed up and order any seeds that I don’t have on hand.
Through the years, I’ve tried many different varieties, including corn-salad (mache), chard, Italian dandelion, kale, onion, spicy greens mix, mizuna, leek, tatsoi, turnips, claytonia, endive, leaf lettuce, radish, spinach, beet, and probably others that I’ve forgotten.
I plant in late September and we always have plenty of nice, fresh, organic green things to eat through the fall, winter and early Spring. By the time things are winding down in the hoop house, garden produce is available from the regular vegetable garden, and so we have fresh things to eat all year round. If you are interested in this, I recommend the book Four-Season Harvest, by Elliot Coleman.
If you consult Coleman’s wonderful book, he tells you just when to plant for your zone as well as how to succession plant as the months proceed. Using a hoop house with insulating greenhouse plastic or greenhouse film, you can grow according to Coleman’s book throughout all four seasons.
When the weather gets REALLY cold, we have some wire wickets my husband made and I place them in the beds and cover the whole thing with floating row cover, held in place with clip-type clothes pins. That, along with the greenhouse covering, protects the plants from wild swings in temperature.
I water the beds until the weather gets cold, and then I never have to water again until things heat up in the Spring.
The plants I have come to rely on are corn-salad, kale, Italian dandelions, spicy green mix, and onions.
Here is what the Swiss chard looks like when things warm up in the Spring:
A hoop house need not be as elaborate as this. We started with just concrete reinforcing bar covered with black plastic pipe, shoved into the ground, tied together with twine and covered with greenhouse plastic from the Greenhouse Megastore and held down with bricks! It worked fine, but when we realized we were serious about this, my husband built our current structure. Consider constructing a hoop house using an easy to construct frame and greenhouse film or plastic before this winter arrives. When you’re harvesting fresh vegetables throughout the winter and spring you’ll be glad you did.
It is like Heaven to go out there on a cold, sunny, January day and harvest fresh vegetables! Ah… stir fries, omelets, steamed lovely greens, salads… the sky is the limit, as they say!