Thursday, December 26, 2013

From chicken tractor to hoop house

Earlier this summer as Mike was building a couple of new chicken tractors, it suddenly occurred to me that once they were no longer housing poultry this fall, they could be covered with greenhouse plastic and used as high tunnels for our winter garden. We first had a winter garden in 2010, using low tunnels, and I loved having fresh greens all winter long, but I did not love crawling around in the snow to harvest them. So, for three years, I've been saying that we need high tunnels, but it had not happened -- until now!

Summer seemed to last forever into the fall months, so we became a little too relaxed about the need to protect the plants in the garden. Floating row covers were working fine through October. But then the weather seemed to switch from summer to winter almost overnight with virtually no fall weather, which made it challenging to get the greenhouse plastic put on the frame. The large rectangles covering the top of the hoophouse are not ideal, but we were racing against time when we put this together, as a storm was brewing. We hope to do something a bit more aesthetically pleasing next year.

This is what the chicken tractor looked like after we removed the blue tarp, which had served as a roof for the ducks that had been living in there through October. The frame fit over the raised bed as if it had been made for it. There was not even an inch to spare.

Now we can walk into the hoop house, where it is warm and toasty during the day, and harvest lettuce. Right after the new year I'm going to start some cabbage and broccoli seeds that will be transplanted in there for an early harvest in the spring. In addition to the greenhouse plastic covering the hoophouse, we also have floating row covers keeping the lettuce warm.


Anonymous said...

Thats great. But we have such high winds not sure we could do this. Abiga/Karen

IsobelleGoLightly said...

Ooo! My Lady would like to try that here. We have trouble with the snows and ices that bring down things like that.

Deborah Niemann said...

We are south of a wide open cornfield, so we have very high north winds. In fact, two small purchased greenhouses have been destroyed by the winds here. Our low tunnels have survied nicely for four years, including the year of the big blizzard. I'm expecting this to hold up extremely well to the wind because the livestock panels provide far more support than typical greenhouse framing, so I know that snow and ice piling up will not be a problem. And if it doesn't work, the only thing we've lost is the greenhouse plastic because we already have the structure as a chicken tractor.


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