June 2010 – Howard Clark
New England’s growing season of 6-7 months is a pretty good one, but Howard Clark has figured out a way to make it even longer. By building a hoop house with saplings as struts and covered with plastic sheeting, Howard grows vegetables almost all year ‘round.
The saplings are tied together with twine to create the hoops and the plastic sheeting is stapled at the outer edges to ensure a good seal. Bamboo or other flexible wood or metal could also be used to create the structure. He also has a doorway closure of plastic sheeting that keeps out the cold air. To keep the hoop house warm during the cooler weather, he has a large number of plastic jugs filled with water and covered by black plastic bags. They hold the heat from the sun into the night so the ground in the hoop house does not freeze. Bags of dried leaves are located around the outside of the hoop house as another protection from the cold. Howard also has built a small greenhouse to start his plants, particularly tomatoes. Kale, peppers, tomatoes, squash, corn and many other plants grow in the hoop house until it is time to plant them outdoors. Howard also freezes, cans and dehydrates the produce that he grows. This really cuts down on food costs overall. Do you want to know more about putting together a hoop house? Contact us and we will put you in touch with Howard Clark, this month’s Green Hero or others who are stretching the growing season.