I picked up the plastic for the hoophouse this week from Greenhouse Supply in Brewer. They kindly sold me at a discount a 50′x20′ piece off a damaged roll. With help from friends Karen and Bill, we got the cover on today. Currently it is held on with clamps and straw bales; we will secure it as soon as we can.
Earlier in the day Dan had laid the plastic, which was folded, out in the sun to warm up. Then, we unfolded one half, measuring to be sure, and carefully cut it in half using a utility knife with a new blade. Then, the four of us each took a corner and lifted it over the hoophouse frame from the side. After making sure we had it evenly placed, we placed straw bales over the excess plastic on the sides to hold it in place.
Within minutes it was much warmer in the hoophouse than the outside air temperature, and within 60 minutes it was 82°F, while the outside temperature was about 66°F (although it felt warmer in the sun).
Once we had oohed and aawed, made plans for breakfast in the hoophouse some cool November morning, and Karen and Bill had gone home, I planted my poor seedlings. The seedlings have been ready for planting lo these many weeks, but life just wasn’t cooperating. My once beautiful brassica seedlings were ravaged by the evil green cabbage worm, and the chard was looking spindly and weak, but I’m hoping that they’ll recover. At least most of the lettuce looked terrific.
First, I raked all the straw cover back (uncovering a toad in the process, which I promptly relocated to the tomato area) and loosed the soil, compacted by Dan and I tromping around during construction. Then I applied a very generous dose of compost I’d been denying my other plants hoarding for this application. I raked in some Plant Tone organic fertilizer, planted the seedlings, and watered them in with some dilute Neptune’s harvest seaweed fertilizer (high in P for root development).
On a future weekend, we need to tack the plastic to the side purlins and the ends, and fix the sides so that we can roll them up when we need ventilation, but this can wait until we have a bit more time. At least the seedlings are in the ground and the tomatoes are covered and warm. Maybe we will get some ripe tomatoes from this project!