Tiny farming: Greenhouse

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

Steel in the field

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[From 9-Oct-2014] The steel and plastic for a 108’x30′ double-walled hoophouse, just delivered to the field. Up before snow falls? That’s the plan, but it’s only 50:50, depending on the weather.

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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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