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Tag: hoop house

  • Cabbage Butterfly on the Fly

    May 31, 2012
    Cabbage Butterflies

    Cabbage Butterflies at Tricycle Gardens in Richmond, VA

    The pesky cabbage butterfly is invading all over gardens everywhere right now. Last week, I was 3000 miles away from my own garden, but I saw these butterflies (not moths) in action. When I got home, there they were flying through my garden too.

    Fortunately, my brassica crops (cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, etc…) are well protected from them. Plastic-sheeted hoop houses keep out the egg-laying adult butterflies. Though, it is time for me to exchange the plastic for floating row cover, which is more ideal in warmer temperatures. But that’s another post for another day.

    For now, take a close look at these adult butterflies I found at Tricycle Gardens in Richmond, Virginia. And, if you’ve seen these flying around in your garden, be sure to read more in our earlier post that shows photos of their caterpillar phase and the damage those green, wormy creatures do so very fast in a brassica patch. And, yes, we’ve shared tips for keeping them out of your crops without a drop of ‘cide!

  • How to Grow Front Yard Tomatoes that Ripen even in a Record Cold Summer

    April 04, 2012
    June: Tomatoes Transplanted & Protected in Hellstrip

    June: Tomatoes Transplanted & Protected in Hellstrip

    Got questions about how to grow tomatoes successfully?

    Here’s a timeline we put together to help you grow your way to a bumper-crop of these delicious nightshades. Time to get growing now!

    _______________

    (The following was originally posted 9/21/2010)

    This afternoon I enjoyed lunch on my patio in the sun. I watched the honeybees visiting late bloomers as I gobbled up a sandwich and soaked up some much needed daylight. Then, of course, I had to take a stroll through my garden to see what’s what.

    At this point most of my summer veggie crops are pretty much kaput. I am letting my runner beans fatten up for drying. A few chard continue to produce as do a couple of cucumbers, beets, yellow wax beans, zucchini and some sad corn. Really, it’s all about the tomato crop this year. And, honestly that’s kind of surprising given how cool and wet it’s been. Then again, with just a little extra care, several of the right kinds of plants and some luck against blight, its pretty apparent Seattlites really can enjoy a decent tomato harvest.

    July: Tiny-looking Tomatoes Thriving in the Heat

    July: Tiny-looking Tomatoes Thriving in the Heat

    Here’s the rundown:

    • March: Seeded tomatoes into sterile mix. Grew them on without supplemental light or heat in unheated greenhouse.
    • April & May: Potted tomato seedlings into 4″ and 1 gallon containers, keeping them in the greenhouse and cold frame. Fertilize with slow release, natural organic.
    • June: Transplanted tomatoes into parking strip / Hellstrip. Buried stems deeply in shallow trenches. Installed square cages. Covered cages with plastic to continue greenhouse effect, leaving a few inches at bottom of cages exposed to allow for airflow. Fertilize with slow release, natural organic.
    • July: Removed plastic wrapping from tomatoes. Trimmed tomatoes multiple times. Encouraged volunteer borage to go crazy among tomatoes. Bees love it. Bees visit borage and then tomatoes — honeybees as well as bumblebees!
    • August: Continue trimming out tomatoes. Water as needed. Fertilize for final time.

      September: Heat-catching hoops are well vented to produce ripe tomatoes

      September: Heat-catching hoops are well vented to produce ripe tomatoes

    • September: Tip out plants. Thin out any late suckers. Cut out all new flowers, which have zero chance of forming viable fruit this year. With hold fertilizer. Replace plastic, using hoop houses now that plants are large. Don’t cover completely as airflow is critical to keep out blight and to allow water to reach roots with minimal splashing on plants. Check regularly for any fungal infections. Remove and dispose of any immediately. Harvest every few days & preserve & EAT!

    Next year this strip won’t be used for tomatoes. Gotta think crop rotation, right? Last year it was corn, squash and beans. Next year I’m thinking a field of edamame may be in order!

    Need help planning ahead for next year? Get in touch with Garden Mentors to set up your edible garden consultation now. Believe it or not, its never too soon to get started!

    Mid-September: A Bounty of Garden Tomatoes

    Mid-September: A Bounty of Garden Tomatoes

    Tonight I look forward to another large harvest of mixed Peron, Saucy Paste, Oregon Springs, Sweetie and Late Keeper Tomatoes. Likely, after harvest, I’ll be preserving yet another large batch like this one. The question is: do I make soup, marinara or just chunk them up for any number of fantastic winter meals. Or maybe, we’ll just eat a huge salad of them instead!

    If you had this mountain of tomatoes to ponder, what recipe would be first on your list? Although I have any number of ideas, I welcome your input and look forward to new recipes! Remember: we have a mix of slicers and paste tomatoes going this year, so be creative and inspire us!

  • Cultivating Gardens from Seed Successfully

    March 07, 2012
    love lies bleeding grown from seed

    Gorgeous Love Lies Bleeding grown from seed in 2011 using the methods illustrated below

    If you’re starting seeds in a greenhouse planting tray & lid,  be sure you know when to keep the lid on and when to take it off. (I’ve provided a photographic timeline later in this post, so skip ahead if pictures are better for you than words.) Lids help keep in moisture and heat, which is a good thing for germinating seeds. Lids can also intensify light on the soil, which is also a good thing for helping warm the soil. But too much of a good thing can be bad.

    Once the seeds germinate and send shoots above the soil, its time to begin opening the lid a bit to ventilate. This helps some of the accumulating moisture evaporate, so be sure to check the soil often in case it needs watering. And, getting that bit of ventilation going will also help keep down fungal disease; even the smallest bit of airflow can make all the difference.

    Then, once the seedlings begin to get a little height, be sure to remove the lid completely. This will give the young plants room to grow upwards. Ventilation will also be increased. And, shortly, you’ll be potting the young plants into bigger containers or moving them out into the garden.

    Following is a visual guide through the various steps I find work really well: (more…)

  • Nosy Neighbor – Northwest Edible Life Tour

    August 01, 2011
    Corky of Ballard Bee Company Inspecting the Honey Bee Hive

    Corky of Ballard Bee Company Inspecting the Honey Bee Hive

    I’m a bit late to the game, but hopefully I haven’t missed the bus entirely. Local PacNW blog Northwest Edible Life is sponsoring a day of peeking over the virtual fence to see what’s happening in other gardens around the blogosphere. Since I’m late, and I’m time crunched, I’ve  just put up a few recent shots from around the garden this summer. Despite how cool & wet it’s been, the garden looks great. Heck, the plants are actually thriving with consistent rain this summer. And, I’ve rarely turned on my irrigation – yay! Still, just a few shots here to give you a peek over our fence.

    If you want to see more photos of our garden over the years and throughout the years, just take some time to stroll through this blog. You’ll find lots more and get to see the garden evolve too!

    And, if you spy something in these shots that leaves you extra curious, please comment below about what intrigues you. Perhaps, if its not too private, I’ll write up more detail on that garden tidbit and add more photos later.

    Thanks NW Edible Life for inspiring this summer garden tour!

    Puppy Playmates making good use of the back patio and Greenhouse area

    Puppy Playmates making good use of the back patio and Greenhouse area

    Hoop house & Greenhouse - two of my favorite features

    Hoop house & Greenhouse - two of my favorite features

    Flagstone path, Bubbling Pot & Purple Cabbages in the front

    Flagstone path, Bubbling Pot & Purple Cabbages in the front

    Cold Frame Empty of Summer Crops/Ready for Fall Crops

    Cold Frame Empty of Summer Crops/Ready for Fall Crops

    Great Garden Guru Friends Gathered on Granite Boulders Around the Fire -That's what all the noise was the other night!

    Great Garden Guru Friends Gathered on Granite Boulders Around the Fire -That's what all the noise was the other night!

  • Hope for the Tomatoes

    July 21, 2011

    Right now, your garden is either soggy & chilly or frying under an unforgiving sun. There isn’t much in between this summer anywhere in the US. And, in both situations, getting a tomato to form and ripen is pretty tough.

    First Ripening Cherry Tomato of 2011 - July 21st!?!

    First Ripening Cherry Tomato of 2011 - July 21st!?!

    If its too hot out, the fruit won’t ripen. If its too wet, pollinators may not be able to get to the flowers & that nasty late blight can easily take hold.

    But, let me give you hope. Protected under hoops, in my cool, wet garden I spied the first of my ripening tomatoes. It’s a cherry. And, it comes from a start I bought from my CSA farmer. Her plants were well ahead of mine.

    It had taken me three tries at successive seedings this year to get any plants to germinate. That put me weeks behind my ideal schedule. Fortunately, I could buy this golden cherry from her to get this timely fruit. And, with a little luck, the green tomatoes forming all over the plants I seeded myself will begin ripening soon.

    Have hope folks. Those tomatoes aren’t done tryin’ yet!

    Need help figuring out how to get your tomatoes through a cool, wet season? Read more here!

  • Taking a Peek Under the Hood

    June 10, 2011
    Neon Glow Chard, pushing up floating fleece in the hellstrip

    Neon Glow Chard, pushing up floating fleece in the hellstrip

    I write a lot about using floating row cover (aka horticultural fleece) and hoop houses to protect crops. Yesterday, I noticed that some of the floating fleece was getting a bit taut over a rising crop, so I took a couple peeks under the hood to see what was going on.

    Turns out, over the past week our beautiful Neon Glow Chard, sent to Garden Mentors courtesy of Renee’s Garden Seeds, is looking fantastic. Actually, it’s time for us to start harvesting the outer leaves to eat &/or to share with the local food bank.

    In one hoop house: Thyme, carrots, lettuce, tomatoes & beets growing nicely

    In one hoop house: Thyme, carrots, lettuce, tomatoes & beets growing nicely

    Nearby this well protected crop, I’ve installed another patch of the same chard. This other patch has no fleece protection. When it gets hit with leaf miner later this season — and don’t worry, it’ll happen — I’ll snap shots to show you what a difference a little row cover can make!

    And, while I had the camera out, I grabbed a shot under the tomato hoop house to share. This area was planted just a week ago, so everything is still small and young, but so far it’s all doing fantastic. I just wish today’s 50F drizzle would go away so the sun could come out to power these babies up for the season!

    Oh, and did I mention? I planted 8 more golden nugget cherry tomatoes yesterday. They aren’t protected or hooped to retain heat. I sure hope they continue to grow happily despite our chilly, soggy summer weather!

    **note: Renee’s Seed was sent to us for free. This article has been written without any compensation other than a free packet of seeds to try growing.

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