Hoops and Leeks

Hey, so, guess what I did? I made a hoop house, though Gabe calls it “The Tent” because Gabe does not understand agriculture.
This all came about because I finally got around to creating my first-ever straw bale garden last spring. I had to modify it because I’m way too lazy to soak hay bales with kelp water or to put forth crazy amounts of effort to get straw to make food. Instead, I used the straw bales as a box and filled the middle with dirt and had a raised bed. I planted seeds together all willy-nilly to see what would grow and what wouldn’t and I decided to try my hand at leeks (I don’t even know what to DO with leeks, other than spin them) because I saw baby ones at the store and wanted to give them a good home. The leeks, cucumbers, and butternut squash grew like they were in a real garden. The green beans and wax beans, the radishes, the spinach and the lettuce sort of flailed about weakly. The carrots didn’t take until much later because the deer kept topping them. And the basil died. Over and over. So it was partially successful.
I learned some lessons:
1) Don’t randomly plant everything together just because you want to see what is going to grow (like I didn’t already know that);
2) Not all straw bales are packed equally and when you get a bad one, you’re going to fall into it while using it as a knee-rest and you’ll wind up with huge indentations in the bale. On the plus side, those can be filled with dirt next spring and you can plant new things in those holes! Neat!;
3) Think a little harder when planning your straw bale garden location. It really should have been where the firepit is even though the firepit is in the best place for a firepit because there’s nothing combustible nearby – OR – put the firepit ON the garden and kill all the birds with stones and fire and straw.

Here’s something I didn’t know about leeks. In Colorado, they need to grow for about 18 months – that may be true outside of Colorado, too. I found this out after I’d planted them. That means they have to winter over which, in turn, means they need protection for about six months. I can’t bring the whole garden inside like I do the pots of basil or peppers. I checked this book out from the library, hoping it would give me tips on making stupid leeks last through a cold and potentially-snowy winter. It did, in fact, help. Tremendously. It taught me how to build a little hoop house, something I’d first encountered when reading Joel Salatin’s Folks, This Ain’t Normal and had been wondering about ever since.
I explained my desire to build a hoop house to my brother. He laughed at me and said it wouldn’t work and and pretty much called me stupid. I punched him  and set out to prove him wrong.

Winter Is Coming but not fast enough to bite me in the procrastinating ass. I was able to get my act together and get all the materials for hoop house-making. I got it up in an afternoon. That night, we had a big, nasty freeze with lots of wind which goes to show I am HOURS ahead of the curve!  It made me feel pretty good to go out after the freezy windy night and see that the leeks were green and upright and there was condensation on the inside of the “tent” which indicated to my not-scientific mind that it was warmer in the hoop house than it was outside and that meant I’d won.

This is the skeleton. I made it myself. Those are the leeks that need protection and started this whole kerfuffle in the first place.

This is the finished product. It was actually really easy. The plastic is clamped to the skeleton down at the base and wood keeps the ends down but lets me undo it all really quickly should fresh air need to get to the baby plants. Brilliant.

Since then, it’s warmed up again and I have to open my little hoop house to give it air. I’ve planted some cold-tolerant seeds like mustard leaves and kohlrabi (I don’t even know what that is, but it’s cold tolerant). I’m really excited to see what happens…and to show my brother I’m a freakin’ genius.






Did it work? Find out here!


Filed under Adventures, In my backyard

5 responses to “Hoops and Leeks

  1. Oh my gosh, I didn’t even know what a hoop house was until you explained it. This was so informative! Now I know about the leek waiting period, too, in case I ever get with the program and actually start my vegetable garden.

    • Yeah, I just found out about the hoop houses this past summer and I was SO excited to see them in the winter gardening book! They’re really easy to make. Heck, if you go outside and make one, you can say you’ve started on your garden and then feel good all winter long. See how great that is?

  2. abrielolive

    I left that on for several hours once. Messed up my whole week.

  3. Leeks are good to use in place of onions. You prolly have figured that out by now.
    I love the hoop house idea. I’ve made one before only it was HUGE and way unnecessary for what I needed it to do.

    • There was a bit of a learning curve on this one but on the whole, I’d say it’s been well worth it. Even if I did forget to close it all back up after one warm day and all the sprouts got murdered by freezingness. 😦
      We actually only discovered leeks last year. I mean, we’ve known about them but didn’t know what to DO with them until a bunch of recipes started telling us to use them. Now we have Love of Leeks.

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