Monday, June 15, 2009


I'm away for a week, which means the hoophouse needs to leave the nest. There are two things that need to be done that I was doing myself mostly.

1) Watering; and 2), climate control. If the weather would have been guaranteed to be cloudy thunderstormy afternoons every day I could have left the hoophouse shuttered up. But of course weather prediction is not even close to 100% accuracy.

If it's a sunny afternoon, the greenhouse will quickly get into the 90s or hotter and the plants will bake. So I opened up the ends of the hoophouse at the top to let the hot air escape and allow the breeze to circulate. Although I did ask Marguerite to check in on it if it gets really hot outside as the lower part might need to be opened as well. So it is almost self-sufficient in that regard. I'm planning on putting in one of those heat-activated windows soon so that would completely take care of this issue. The downside to keeping the ends open is it's cooler at night, but that's just the way it goes.

The hoophouse also needs regular water. I have a number of seeds that need to stay moist so they'll germinate. I planted New Zealand white clover on some of the garden walkways, and there's some okra, edamame, and scarlet runner beans that will probably sprout up while I'm gone. The established plants could have gotten by with one really deep watering before I left town.

To keep everything watered I have a drip irrigation system. It's hooked up to a timer that is set to water every other day for 12 minutes or so. I was bad and have it water during mid-day. I figure there is less evaporation in the hoophouse, and drip irrigation systems water right next to the soil so it's not as wasteful as other watering methods. I wanted it to water mid-day so it would cool the hoophouse down a bit during the hottest time of day.

The outdoor garden is also set up to the same system as I have seeds out there that also need to have moist soil. The outdoor system would be better if I had a rain gauge hooked up to the timer so it could skip it on the rainy day. Someday I will do that.

One thing that is nice about going away from the garden for a while is I get to see a more dramatic change in the garden when I get back. The plants get noticeably bigger. When you see them every day you see the change very gradually.

Two years ago we went away for almost a month during end of June and early July. I set up drip for the tomatoes and they went from tiny little plants to huge tomato bushes with fruit on them. It feels like a gamble to do that but really with regular sun and water the plants will most likely do great.

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