Thursday, October 30, 2008

Demise (probably) of Hoophouse #2

Ah, well. It was a valiant effort. But the hoophouse (shown in the video below) is no more. At least, the plastic has been demolished. The winds we experienced over the last two days were just too much for it. Tuesday morning we thought it might have survived, and by the afternoon it looked like a tornado had come through. Todd tried his best to save it, but after a struggle, he just took the sheets of plastic down.

Last night a low of 30 F was predicted, so we just covered the plants directly with plastic and old sheets and weighted those down with logs. We haven't looked yet to see if all that's still on. But a cover closer to the ground has a better chance. The only drawback is that the covers can chafe the little plants as the wind blows, sometimes rubbing them out totally.

So what do we do now? Todd is researching flexible polycarbonate panels, which are seriously pricey. We'll probably try one more time to apply the plastic sheeting, since we still have quite a bit of it, and reinforce it heavily with clips. In our latest attempt, we only used clips on the ends and the join the pieces in the middle. Supposing we applied clips to every hoop, it might make a big difference.

The last time we tried to build a hoophouse, in the Spring, even the PVC pipes were cracked by the wind. After the first wind storm, there were pipe ends sticking up through the ripped plastic. It was such a disaster. I only wish we had pictures to post, though I'm not sure I could bear to look at them. This time the pipes are still in place and not at all compromised, so I am taking that to mean that our overall design has improved.

It might be that cold frames are the answer for us. We have a few old storm windows that we're going to use to make a few cold frames, but that limits the space in which we can grow considerably. But a huge part of farming is adapting to the climate. If the wind is our biggest foe, then we just have to grow around it.

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