Zone 5 greenhouse anyone?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by eb, May 14, 2004.

  1. eb

    eb Well-Known Member

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    Just curious if any of you folks use a greenhouse/hoop house for growing vegetables in a zone 5 or colder climate?

    I am interested in getting on in order to extend my growing season on both ends...right now, I start all my seeds inside under flourescent lamps, but that is getting tight for space. I usually can't plant outside until June 1st...I'd love to be able to get things like lettuce and tomatoes( and anything else) a LOT earlier, and have another batch a lot later in the season...

    Is it possible, for example, to extend the growing season all the way until late November or December even? or does it become less of a warmth thing, and more of a short-day thing?

    Share with me what works well, and what doesn't while I am thinking about getting a greenhouse...thanks!
     
  2. gobug

    gobug Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I just bought and read a book by Eliot Coleman called "Four Season Harvest." I paid list at $25 from Johnny's, but my sister said she found it online for $15 + 2 shipping. He describes in great detail how to get year around production from the garden using simple techniques including a movable hoop greenhouse and row covers. He lives and gardens in Maine! Its a good read and its packed with lots of information you would value. I got it too late into the winter to employ many ideas, but I did make row covers for some of my boxes.
     

  3. Windy in Kansas

    Windy in Kansas In Remembrance

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    Nope I don't have one but am thinking about adding a pit unit to extend harvests.

    In addition to the aforementioned "Four Season Harvest" I would also recommend taht you read "Solar Gardening" by Poisson, and "The 12-Month Gardener" by Ashton.

    I would like to know more of where you live and your climate. I used to live in zone 5, but certainly didn't have to wait until June to plant. Seems rather late to me, but then again we didn't get but a few inches of soil frost where I lived. Now I live in zone 6. I love the change, but we do have to fight more insects.
     
  4. Canehdian

    Canehdian Member

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    Hoop Houses, Early Season growing??? You bet...

    We live in Saskatchewan Canada, Zone 3 and we usually have our maters in the ground before the snow is gone. What we do is grow in raised beds. Most are 4' x 16' grown with 2x12 boards for sides and pvc stump pipes attached to this about January we cover the beds with pvc ribbing and clear plastic, black plastic also goes on the ground and we use heating cables to warm the soil. Most plants are in the ground for around the 1st of March and we still get snow right up till the middle of May...

    I did have a website up which included plans for constructing these, but have since taken it off line, No files were saved but I will put up a new site when time permits, the website will be at giantveggies.com.

    With growing for the table we usually just grow in the normal season, but our hobby is growing giant veggies and for these you need all the extra growing time you can get.

    our accomplishments so far using this early season method has produced for us a...

    727 lb Pumpkin (saskatchewan record)
    697.5 Squash (weigh-off site record, saskatchewan record, 4th largest in Canada of all time)
    108 lb Watermelon (saskatchewan record)
    10.7 lb carrot (saskatchewan record)
    4.14 lb radish (saskatchewan record)
    6.4lb Tomato (Saskatchewan record, Canadian Record and second largest grown in the world) grown off the "Thunder Creek Tomato" which we created, but keep your eye out for our newest variety, the Giant Titan Tomato.

    These above are our personal best with many other various sizes. Now for growing say for the table some plants like you mentioned would benefit from extended seasons plus if you grow using the square foot method you can also have multiple plantings.

    hope this helped... :)

    TTYL
    Ernie
     
  5. Mike in Ohio

    Mike in Ohio Well-Known Member

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    Zone 5 in Northern Ohio. We love our hoop greenhouse (over one raised bed). I am doing additional hoops this summer on other beds and I am doing a larger hoop with two 10 foot pvc pipes across 2 beds so that we can stand in the middle (between the beds).

    We use 1/2" 10 foot PVC pipes across one bed. Spacing between hoops is 1 foot in some sections and 2 feet in others. We have a bunch of plastic sheeting we bought when Farm & Fleet closed up by us. We got it at 80% off so I bought all I could.

    For the larger (across 2 beds) I plan on using 2 10 foot 3/4" PVC pipes. I've put up a couple of test hoops to try it out. This approach makes us more comfortable with putting a kerosene heater inside when frost hits (particularly in the fall).

    For mounting them we use galvanized U straps that we screw into the 4x4s that we used to frame the raised beds.

    The hoops allow us to get an early start on things but we still prefer to start seeds inside. This allows an even earlier start than if we were just planting inside the greenhouse.

    In the fall we have been picking maters as late as the end of December. Late greens, carrots and other veggies do really nice well into the winter.

    I'm keeping my eyes out for a bunch of plate glass windows (like a hotel being demolished or something...lobby windows). So I can build a glass greenhouse against the new barn....nice southern exposure and there is even a man door in the barn siding right where we would want access to the greenhouse.

    Hope this helps. Can you tell I'm a fan?

    Mike
     
  6. MaKettle

    MaKettle Well-Known Member

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    Zone 5 here, but we have constant wind with gust up to 45 mph and even higher, though rare. Tried the pvc pipe hoopie things when we moved out here, but they were gone with the wind. What has worked quite well is a cold frame made of 2 x 8's covered with glass windows. These are heavy enough the wind does not move them. In the fall I plant it with spinach, and lettuce, and then cover it when it gets cold. The idea is to have the plants about 2-3" tall by the time the bad weather arrives. It needs to be opened when the weather warms. In the spring the overwintered plants take off, and we have salads coming out of our ears by the time most people are planting.

    We also have a frame that is made of 1 x 4's. The ends are triangles of thin plywood. It is about 2 1/2' tall and 8' long. Have no idea what it was originally for--found it at a garage sale. I cover it with doubled clear plastic using double faced tape on one side, and bank the ends and taped side with straw. The other long side I've fitted with hinged doors made of 1 x 4's and clear plastic. They do not fit tightly, but seem to be sufficient to over winter plants and to start onions, radishes, etc, and to place trays of seed flats inside start hardy flowers and stuff, and to harden off the tomatoes, etc. Something like this could be placed over peppers, etc to extend their bearing, and could be used to grow fall cabbage, greens, and so on.

    Even so, I have greenhouse envy.
     
  7. Idahofarmergal

    Idahofarmergal Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    Idaho
    I'm in zone 5 and can't plant out frost tender plants until June 1, also. I have a 30'x96' commercial greenhouse, as I am trying to make a living off this farm. The greenhouse is wonderful. Best investment I ever maid. Beyond the money making end of it, the veggies are fabulous, abundant, and early. You can figure on eating greens and such from November through May, and cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, basil, eggplant, etc, from June through October. Up here close to Canada the light levels get so low by late October that the summer veggies get nasty by then - diseased and tasteless. But the greens do well.

    I use no heat for the majority of the greenhouse, but do have a hoop house that I put up within the greenhouse in February and March for my tender plant starts. I cover them when the outside temps are going to be in the low 20's or lower. This is a very simple structure as it is never challenged by the wind and snow. I have a little $15 electric heater for inside the hoophouse, and just set it for 40 degrees. I sell veggie plant starts commercially, so I do baby them. I also have a 2' by 8' heat mat that I start seeds on so I no longer need to start them in the house. This also gets covered when nights get nippy. The starts do much better than in the house. They are stronger and greener, and grow faster. I do have circulating fans to move the air around, and this is very important for strong, disease free plants. It also helps keep frost from settling in the greenhouse on nippy nights in late winter. If you are off-grid, plan for your greenhouse to have roll-up sides, or it will get too hot on sunny days.

    I farm organically, so I sometimes get a build up of weeds and pests in the greenhouse that are difficult to deal with. Last winter I put my chickens in the greenhouse for a few months, and they cleaned it up and fertilized it for me. I have done nothing to the soil yet this year, and my plants are bigger and better than ever, without a single pest. I highly recomend doing this. And, the eggs were fabulous all winter. It did mean that I had no harvest for that time period, but it was worth it.

    My only regret regarding the greenhouse is that I don't have two or three...
    And here's something to remember when planning a greenhouse: No matter how big it is, you will fill the space quickly and wish it were bigger.
     
  8. eb

    eb Well-Known Member

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    So you use no heat, but still are able to extend your season quite a bit? Thats good to know...my big fear was that the cost of the greenhouse would end up being minor compared to the cost of heating it.....

    What kind of greenhouse do you have? Does it hold up to high winds? My place is located such that we get a few months (winter and early spring) or very strong, steady winds...for days at a time. Would most greenhouses hold up in those winds (I am not talking hurricane winds, just good strong steady wind, and occassional gusts that are even stronger).

    I have check out www.farmtek.com and was considering buying from them...any other places to check out before I decide?
     
  9. Mike in Ohio

    Mike in Ohio Well-Known Member

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    Hmmmm.....

    My hoops have held in 45mph+ winds. I did site them so that the ends (rather than the sides) face the prevailing winds.

    The rule of thumb I have heard is that a plastic hoop greenhouse gains you one growing zone.

    Mike
     
  10. Idahofarmergal

    Idahofarmergal Well-Known Member

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    Idaho
    I purchased the strongest greenhouse I could find in its category as I work off farm in the winter and we get some big, heavy snowfalls here. And some pretty good winds. The frame is 2 3/4" ID heavy gauge steel. I ordered the extra W trusses. (Nice for trellising from, two.) No regrets. Some folks around here with lesser structures have had collapses in the winter, but I don't worry at all. It's double wall poly with air inflation, and it buys me at least 2 climate zones without any heat. I purchased an entire kit, including fans, exhaust vents, Modine propane heater (which I don't currently use), the poly, etc, for under $10,000. I could have saved a couple thousand if I did not want so much steel. We had to purchase lumber for around the base and the endwalls, but everything else came with the kit. Shop around.

    My greenhouse has held up very well through 4 winters. It is a gothic arch with 6' side walls, 30' x 96'. The snow sheds, eventually. It has piled up to over 6 feet along the sides and leaned in heavily on the greenhouse, but no problems.

    One of the most important things to consider for high winds is how you attach it to the ground. I suggest setting the steel posts in concrete. I didn't, and have had no problems, but likely I don't get as much wind as you. We just pounded the steel posts a couple of feet into the ground. What you don't want is to have the wind get in and lift the structure. So keep your door(s) shut and your sidewalls down, (if you have roll up sides) when the wind blows. I don't have roll-up sides. I am off the farm quite a bit and so purchased a greenhouse that I do not have to babysit what-so-ever. I have big exhaust fans and automatic vents, so I have no need to leave the greenhouse open. If I am off farm when a big thunderstorm with high winds rolls through I have no worries. It cost more initially, and costs some electricity, but for me it is worth it. There are other farmers around here who have the ability to babysit their greenhouses more than I do, and they have simpler structures. So, consider your needs, plans, and pocketbook, and shop around.