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hoop house and sheet mulching questions  RSS feed

 
Chris Fitt
Posts: 115
Location: Eastern Shore VA
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So it is January, and we live in North Texas.  The farmer that we work for wants to plant our hoop house this week.  Our weather lately has been between mid twenties and low thirties at night with day time temps anywhere from mid forties to mid sixties.  We are planting starts of broccoli, kale, cauliflower and Swiss chard.  We also have garlic and onions.  Will this work?  What concerns should we have?

To further complicate matters, the hoop house has been built over a grass area in the yard.  It has not been tilled or prepped in anyway.  We are thinking about sheet mulching.  My partner took the PDC and we have a good working theory, but we are about to try it for the first time.  Any advice for first time sheet mulchers?  We learned to use cardboard as the barrier medium and have some.  We also have tons of paper feed bags.  Would that work?  What should we use for manure?  We have chickens, a goat, a horse, and cows.  Is one better than another?  What about a combination?  We also have pigs in a pen.  There is plenty of finished and unfinished compost and straw and hay.  Any help would be appreciated.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9696
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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What are the temps in the hoop house?  Seems like with this protection the plants should be fine.

Spring planting schedule for Texas:  http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/archives/parsons/earthkind/ekgarden14.html

 
                          
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I am doing sheet mulching over grass also though not in a hoop house.  The first year I did it, it was over piled up dirt that had been sort of construction rubble, in a very dry climate, with a bunch of weedy oats in and all around (the ones that have seedheads called "foxtails" that stick in animals' coats like burs..... can't recall the name of the plant other than that.)

anyway, it worked excellent well in that climate.  I used cardboard and newspaper when I ran out of cardboard and then piled up on top whatever I could get my hands on in the way of compost manure soil and mulching material.  Tried to mulch with dried leaves I raked up without crushing them as I had no way to do that, wet them down real real good and they still dried up and blew away.  Twice.

It still worked.

Doing it here in a wetter climate, on top of healthy turf, is a new one but we shall see.

In terms of your manure, I would choose the horse from that array, just because I think it is safest (less likely to burn plants if it is too fresh -- don't use the others unless they are months old I'd suggest).  each one has its own properties though and with that much to choose from you can learn over time which is best for which application (abundance!)  Layer the manure with straw and compost if you have it.  Pile it up as thick as you can up to about 6 inches or so, and give it some time to settle if you can.  If you have to plant it right away, well, water it in real well first and think about your layers more carefully as they will not have time to decompose and meld.......  so in that case I'd put straw on the cardboard, then as much older compost mixed with soil as you have, top dress with a manure that is not too hot and then more straw on top, try to wait a little bit to plant in that even.

Watch out for the hay as it will have seeds...... but if you compost it first it will add more nutrients than the straw will..... you probably know all this already. 

Probably people here know way more about this than I do!  But I am indulging myself here.  I love sheet mulching, it works so nicely when it works.

Here I have a light straw/hay mulch on the far bed and chopped up leaves on the near bed.  I didn't have enough of either to do them both the same.



IMG_1555.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_1555.JPG]
 
Chris Fitt
Posts: 115
Location: Eastern Shore VA
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Ludi Ludi wrote:
What are the temps in the hoop house?  Seems like with this protection the plants should be fine.

Spring planting schedule for Texas:  http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/archives/parsons/earthkind/ekgarden14.html




Thanks for the planting schedule good info.  I just put a thermometer in there today and will start tracking it.  This is kind of a doomed project, with many complex politics.  We just got stuck in the middle.  We planted some of it today and we have below freezing temps tonight (30).  When we were working in there today before the thermometer, it was very warm.  Around sundown it was 53 in the hoop house which was about the same as outside.  So we'll see.  We did put a bucket of water in there to help temper it.

 
Chris Fitt
Posts: 115
Location: Eastern Shore VA
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Kyla wrote:

In terms of your manure, I would choose the horse from that array, just because I think it is safest (less likely to burn plants if it is too fresh -- don't use the others unless they are months old I'd suggest).  each one has its own properties though and with that much to choose from you can learn over time which is best for which application (abundance!)  Layer the manure with straw and compost if you have it.  Pile it up as thick as you can up to about 6 inches or so, and give it some time to settle if you can.  If you have to plant it right away, well, water it in real well first and think about your layers more carefully as they will not have time to decompose and meld.......  so in that case I'd put straw on the cardboard, then as much older compost mixed with soil as you have, top dress with a manure that is not too hot and then more straw on top, try to wait a little bit to plant in that even.


Here I have a light straw/hay mulch on the far bed and chopped up leaves on the near bed.  I didn't have enough of either to do them both the same.




The picture was cool, we documented ours as well.  We planted one area just in finished compost.  We set up the sheet mulch in another corner and will plant some onions in a few weeks.  I like the idea of letting it sit for a few weeks. We used horse manure and may try other mixes in other parts of the hoop house.
 
                          
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Hope you'll be able to post updates....... good luck with it!
 
            
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Here is where you can buy inexpensive (relatively) tools for building hoophouses and floating row covers.  http://www.hoopbenders.net/
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://stoves2.com
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