When the pleasant scent of woodsmoke hangs in the little hollows because of that very real chill in the air…when there is frost on everything, not just the pumpkins…when we change the clocks because it’s the date to “FALL” back…we know it is time.
It is time to remove the shadecloth from the hoophouses.
All Spring and Summer, we shaded the tender greens in order to keep them growing well. By shading the houses and providing good air circulation, we are able to have lettuce even in the hottest part of summer. But, once the angle of the sun changes, once the temperatures begin to drop and the hours of sunlight diminish greatly, it is time to get as much warmth and light in the hoophouses as possible. (well, within reason)
This seasonal dance is one we know well. In the Spring, we pull a shady deal. (read this) But in the Fall, we need to remove the shadecloth and expose the plants to the light necessary for their vigorous growth.
Generally, the shadecloth is neatly folded, then rolled up and stored for next season. This year it was rolled for storage, but not quite so neatly. Next season we will have to replace one piece due to the damage from the Derecho . Read this. But, we were able to salvage a good portion of it and will save it for other uses in the future. There isn’t a lot of refuse on the farm…a lot of “trash” is saved because it can be put to other uses. The real challenge may be remembering where we stored it when Spring comes.
It is amazing to note just how much the shadecloth SHADES. Once it is removed, we will have to closely monitor the daytime temperatures and regulate irrigation and airflow. With the added light, new growth may be seen as early as tomorrow.
The additional light coupled with the types of hardy crops planted in the hoophouses should allow us to have FRESH greens ALL winter. Yep…ALL winter! The hoophouses are an amazing place in the middle of a frigid winter day. Sheltered from the cold winds and frequent freezing precipitation, the hoophouses remain an oasis of green growth and warmth.
Let there be light...so the plants can grow!