Tiny farming: Greenhouse

The basic tiny farming greenhouse is a steel-ribbed, plastic covered hoophouse, the bigger, the better for season extension.

Hoop house architecture

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[From 5-May-2013] A little wood, a little steel, some 6mm UV-stabilized plastic, and simple construction methods come together in the basic walk-in hoophouse, a no-frills structure with its own signature look and quite startling effectiveness when it comes to season extension. What more can you say?!

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Shrouded against the cold

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[From 11-May-2013] Shrouded against the cold: Not much to look at, but nice for the tomatoes, peppers and other seedlings on the tables underneath. It’s a double layer of medium weight floating row cover, tried and true, a familiar spring sight in the unheated greenhouse, good for a few degrees of protection in the forecast overnight near-freeze. Three days of chilly nights, they say.

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Cold-grown salad

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[From 20-Nov-2013] Cold-grown: Tiny lettuce leaves, crisp, fresh and delicious…and grown oh so slowly, without cover, in the unheated greenhouse, through many freezing nights, some down to -15C. Still a while till it’s big enough to harvest, and it was seeded way back at the beginning of October: that’s already 50 days compared to the usual spring/summer 25-35 days for baby lettuce mix). Also, the cold effect gets trickier as the leaves get bigger. All in all, though, seeing food grow in the cold with a minimum of help is quite fantastic.

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Monster tomato leaf

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[From 27-Jun-2013] It’s a monster tomato leaf. There’s not much in the pic to give it scale, but some of these leaves are around a foot long. Way bigger than I’ve seen before. This is the first year I’ve tried tomatoes in the greenhouse, throwing in about 25 leftover tom seedlings and a few eggplant to see how they do. So far, they’re just blowing up, way ahead of the pack in the open field, apparently loving the heat. Nice!

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Winter spinach

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[From 1-Oct-2013] Later and later we go: More late season/winter harvest experiments, with four-week-old spinach transplants into the unheated greenhouse. Also trying out a trench approach to transplanting—a furrow about 6″ deep, made with a hoe—instead of putting them in one by one. Seems a little quicker, but it all takes time!

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Weeded greens

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[From 18-Apr-2013] Greens from the unheated greenhouse, grown in the subzero cold, tossed on one of the majestic mountain ranges of composting cow manure. It’s actually weeds from around the overwintered spinach, plus a little overlooked rotting winter squash in there as well, if you look close, all waiting to be turned in.

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