Hoop House 5
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As the gardener here at Polyface I have 5 hoop houses to fill with veggies from about the middle of March when the chickens move out of the hoop houses, eagerly welcoming the tender green grass, till Thanksgiving, when they again call hoop houses their home.

In the spring, for planting preparation I just ran the tiller through the hoop houses, after the chickens had come out and the tractors had scooped out the deep bedding from the winter and left me with rich black soil.

Four of the hoop houses I can run the tiller through, but our newest hoop house is a little different and unique.  You see, it was designed for pigs.  Most people know that pigs LOVE to root through the soil.  Joel likes to say that all pigs have a sign on their forehead, “Will work for corn.”  That is why we put them in the cows deep bedding because they love to root through it looking for the fermented corn and in the process make fabulous compost.

Anyway, the Salatins have found that deep bedding for pigs works best if underneath all the bedding there is a concrete floor.  The pigs can still root around but they can’t make huge craters all the way down to China.   So the plan for hoop 5 was to pour a concrete floor so the pigs couldn’t make huge holes all over the place, and to make it easier to clean out in the spring.  The only problem was that with pouring the whole floor with concrete took away the ability to grow vegetable in the summer.  One night Joel finally came up with the solution.  Pour sidewalks!  So we did.

Admittedly, it was more difficult to pour, more expensive, and more time consuming, but we can still grow plants in the soil and it worked great when we had pigs in it all winter.  I planted it 3 weeks ago and everything is doing well so far.  A few of the pros are the lack of weeding that I will have to do and the concrete acting as a heat sink and keeping the temperature fairly consistent.  I am really tickled to see how the plants do this year.  I love the whole idea of this experiment and how Joel figured out how to keep the hoop house dual purpose.

What things are you experimenting with this year?

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About Leanna Hale

Leanna Barth, born and raised in NC, first came to Polyface in July 2010 to attend one of the Intensive Discovery Seminars. She loved it so much that she applied for an internship position and was accepted for the 2011 season, after which she took the inventory/gardener position. Before coming to Polyface, she sold produce from her family’s market garden, along with homemade baked goods. This venture was mostly inspired by having read “You Can Farm” by Joel Salatin. Having always loved the outdoors, animals, and gardening Leanna is excited about this coming year, all that she will learn, and how the Lord will use this job later on in her life.
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9 Responses to Hoop House 5

  1. Leilani says:

    Love the innovative ideas! Can you post current pictures from all the hoop house gardens? It would be a real treat to get a peak at them.

  2. Wow wow WOW. That’s kewl. My farm is suburban (there is a reason we call it the toy box) and my experiments are on a much smaller scale. The main experiment is with tomatoes and due to weather it is already looking like a flop. The rest of the country is sweltering but here in the PNW we are still waiting for a week with temperatures above room temp. Higher than the mid 60’s would be awesome! ANYWAY, I usually get tons of green tomatoes that usually go into the compost. Last year one of my son’s wanted a plate of fried green tomatoes…..then life went crazy and they did not get made BUT they started to ripen just sitting in bowls. From late September to about Thanksgiving we had wonderful fresh soup and sauce. I noticed that long season toms ripened beautifully, short season toms rotted in the bowl. THE EXPERIMENT: Find the best late season tomatoes to harvest green for autumn soups and sauce. I am not going to just dump them all into a bowl not knowing what they are. Unfortunately most of our July has been colder than the mid 60’s and wet (I know) Just keeping the blossoms on the plants has been a trick.

  3. Leanna, your gardens look beautiful! I was admiring the outdoor one by the processing shed this morning. 🙂

  4. Joel talked about this new experiment when I heard him at a workshop in June. It was great to see a picture of it actually in use. As you say, it will be interesting to see how it works out at the end of the season.

  5. Steve says:

    I am interested how the concrete floor hoop house has worked the second year. I have and expanse of concrete and would like to grow vegetable on it. Currently we use half wine barrels, but the dirt between concrete is intriguing. Any new insights?

    • Leanna says:

      The second year was better then the first as far as production goes. Just because of the continuing decomposing of all the organic matter from the winter. It was quite an improvement. No new insights and I don’t know that I would change or do anything different. It works great!