In the spring of 2012 we constructed a 30’X96′ hoop house. What great fun we have had learning all the new growing techniques that go with growing inside instead of outside.
Everything is still planted in the ground so that is the same as outside. The really fun part of the hoop house is we can work in it anytime we want. Raining no problem, snowing no problem. Probably the biggest challenge is in the summer in the middle of the afternoon, it is hot in there, I mean reaaaaally hot! So you learn to work in the morning and in the evening. The bugs are not near as bad in the summer and of course in the winter there are no bugs when you are in there. There have been lots of challenges but tons of rewards.
We started all of our plants from seed in January. We built a small little greenhouse within the hoop house which we heat to start the seeds. The rest of the hoop house gets no heat all winter long. It is so exciting to go out there in the middle of the winter and all this wonderful, yummy veggies are growing and no heat. Okay I am getting ahead of myself. Last January we started our seeds in January and we planted our heirloom tomato plants, peppers plants, cucumber plants, beets, kale, spinach and salad turnips by April 15. It was unreal. If it gets to cold we cover with a row cover to keep the heat in. We didn’t lose any plants. Everything grew great as you can see in the pictures. In August we planted carrots for winter harvesting. Then in September through October we planted beets, salad turnips, kale, spinach and salad mix all for winter harvest. Through the winter when it is really cold we cover again with a row cover but when the sun comes out it is so nice in there. We can only plant cool season plants through the winter and at night when it gets dark everything freezes and the next day by noon it is all standing up straight and ready to be harvested. When everything freezes the natural sugar content becomes higher in the veggies and winter vegetables are so much sweeter then summer. The carrots could be called candy carrots they are so sweet and the kale is out of this world. I have customers that would rather eat these veggies in the winter then in the summer because they taste so good.
We grew herbs in containers in the hoop house and we used them in all kinds of recipes. They are so good in the cheese that we make. We are planning on growing all of our herbs for our cheese in our cheese plant. We did a lot of dehydrating of herbs, peppers and tomatoes. All of this can be used when making cheese and all kinds of cooking. Dehydrating and preserving your veggies makes for great eating year round.
We do grow outside too. We grew green, purple and yellow beans, different kinds of squash, zucchini and cabbage. We like to grow different kinds of things so we grew green cucumbers but also lemon and crystal apple cucumbers too.
Our veggies are available at the Farmer’s market in the summer and I deliver orders once a week in Cadillac. Just call or e-mail me your order. We will be teaching classes on growing, cooking and preserving all your goodies, whether you grow them yourself or purchase them from us.
We save our seed from our own veggies and use them to grow again the next year. Keep in touch with us and watch Facebook for dates and times of classes.