Inside My Hoop House: take a peek!

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I planted four long beds in this space this spring. From the left, they are growing: edible flowers and gherkins, heirloom tomatoes, squash and nasturtiums, peppers and eggplants.

This will be the third summer that I’ve grown a garden in my hoop house and it is by far (so far!) the most productive. 🙂 (Thank you, thank you, thank you again, Bryan and Timothy, for building it for me. And also to Dad and Dave and Mom and Matt and Amalia and Bethany and Andrew and everybody else who came to help when we needed it. It took a village, Gentle Readers, to erect this thing.) I’m very happy with how things are growing in there. *delighted shivers*

Curious? My hoop house is my most valuable real estate, garden-wise, and I plan what I’m going to put in there very carefully. The crops that I grow in this space have to like heat (’cause boy does it get hot!) and benefit from a little more protection.

I took a few snapshots just for you guys and gals. 🙂 Welcome to my hoop house.

Welcome to my hoop house!

Come on in!

After I’ve taken care of feeding all our critters, I do my work in the hoop house first. It gets incredibly hot in there, and buggy, so I have to work fast and early. Heat exhaustion is not something I want to tangle with this summer, and biting flies–my goodness, those things are nasty!

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Did you know that there were so many flowers that you can eat? I planted just a few: borage, calendula, cilantro, snapdragons, nasturtiums, and I let some arugula go to seed, too.

I planted lots of colors of nasturtiums. Because: what is more romantic than eating flowers in your salad?

Several colors of nasturtiums look so pretty together. And what could be more romantic than eating flowers for dinner?

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I discovered that the hoop house is a great place to take pictures during Golden Hour, too.

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One long bed is planted in heirloom tomatoes. They are one of my very favorite things to grow. You may, perhaps, picked up on that already. 😉

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Look at these monsters! Already reaching out of the 5′ cages. And I took this picture in early June. Slow down, guys!

The first summer I had this hoop house, I planted just a couple of tomato plants in it, just to see how they would do . . . they grew faster and bigger and were more productive than the tomatoes out in my open garden. Ever since, I’ve planted at least a quarter of my hoop house space in tomatoes. You know how I love all the beautiful heirlooms that are available. Endless variety! My heirloom tomatoes seem to love this space as much as I do. We’re all happy.

So far this is what I've harvested (from upper left): Oregon Spring, Austrian Red Pear, Sweet 100, Sweet Olive. We're just getting started . . . !! :)

So far this is what I’ve harvested (from upper left): Oregon Spring, Austrian Red Pear, Sweet 100, Sweet Olive. We’re just getting started . . . !! 🙂

Much of the past couple seasons of planting in the hoop house has been experimental for me, of course. For example, I planted a few lemon squash plants in my hoop house last year, and a few out in the garden. We have a lot of pests in our area that like to kill squash plants–among them, the cucumber beetle, the squash bug, and my own personal nemesis: the squash vine borer. Probably others, too, darn it.

Usually every squash plant in my garden succumbs to an untimely demise, due to one or more of these bugs. Last year the lemon squash out in my garden, as I expected, after a flurry of production, suddenly croaked. Alas. Overnight. But the squash vines in my hoop house merrily grew and produced until the fall. Apparently (now this is super confidential, so don’t spread it around!) the squash vine borer isn’t bright enough to find its way into my hoop house. (giddy screaming)

(You know what this means, Bryan: I’m going to need a second hoop house, just to grow winter squash and pumpkins!)

Of course the way things go, the dastardly villain could find its way into that vaulted space and kill every last plant in there. But hopefully that won’t happen.

I planted nearly an entire bed with small specialty squashes and zucchinis. They are so beautiful. The plants are lush and gorgeous.

These guys are monsters, too!

These guys are monsters, too!

Here are a few of the varieties that I’m picking so far:

From top left, clockwise: Lucky 8, Magna, Floridor.

From top left, clockwise: Lucky 8, Magna, Floridor. My favorite, lemon squash, is nearly ready to pick.

These little squashes are great in a stir-fry, or sliced up and grilled. I have a feeling we’ll be eating them at least once a day until fall. 🙂 I planted a lot of them (*loosening collar*).

You can eat squash blossoms, too, did you know? But you have to be careful to harvest the male blossoms, not the female ones.

Another nice thing about having so many squash plants: you can harvest and eat the male blossoms!

They are very delicate, but so beautiful!

Peppers and eggplants do very well in the heat. I’ve got an entire bed of just peppers and eggplants, including some very unusual varieties. There are a lot of buds setting on!

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In my dreamy gazing through seed catalogs last winter, my garden-hungry eyes lit upon this little gem: the biquinto pepper. I ordered the seeds and am growing them in my hoop house this year. I can’t wait to see what they taste like. Reports are varying: from smoky-hot to sweet, but everybody seems to agree that they are irresistible. I would like to add them to jars of pickles, especially to pickled Mexican sour gherkins. (Imagine them added to a charcuterie!)

You can read more about this dainty pepper on the Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds website.

You can read more about this dainty pepper here on the Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds website.

These plants start out very tiny! Here’s a newly-planted one:

On the left is a biquinto pepper plant; on the right is an eggplant plant.

On the left is a biquinto pepper plant; on the right is an eggplant plant. So–tiny!!

One last thing: did you know that eggplants had such beautiful blossoms?

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Thanks for stopping by, Gentle Reader. If you’re ever in my neck of the woods, give me a hollar. I’ll give you a tour for real!

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See ya!

*hugs*

p.s.! Just a few more days to enter my giveaway of 3 little bottles of doTerra Essential Oils! Better click on over there and enter!

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14 thoughts on “Inside My Hoop House: take a peek!

  1. Lucy

    Yooooo hoooo Amy dear it’s me, Lucy gal… I have been following you all over the place. Following not stalking : ) Each episode better an better… an though I haven’t written, today I had to let you know you’re always in my thoughts. Ahh…

    I appreciate it when you bare your tender heart with us. (me : )

    Oh the tears … when I read about your…sweet….dog…

    ….sorry can’t quite finish what I wanted to share…all I know is there will be…another or do I dare say even others?

    …..salads and dressings, dilemas of all sorts, you share all your goodness and we’re able to hop, skip an jump a little further down the road! (Wellllll ok how about, *mosey* on down the road of life? Sounds like a blues tune to me : )

    Forward march honey and keep reminding us to stop an smell the beautiful squash blossoms.

    BTW that pic you shot of them on the black-ish chippy board…made me….oh yeahhhh… *swoon!*

    xo

  2. Sharon H

    Amy! OMG, I can hardly stand NOT having a hoop house like yours! If I were the jealous type, I would be an extremely jealous one right now….sigh, thankfully I’m more envious than jealous….but not in a bad way.

    I “need” one of these hoop houses. Seriously. And if I could swing it, I’d be in your neck of the woods later this afternoon….or maybe early in the morning when it isn’t so hot…and I’d for sure be begging for a tour.

    Where can I find all the info on this hoop house? I would search your site but I have to be gone all day today….please share with me?

    Those plants are amazing….you go girl!

  3. Lynda Holliday

    I always have a problem with squash pests. This year I planted a few squash on the far south end of the garden as trap plants. I am hoping the bugs find these first and make a home there leaving my other squash alone 🙂

  4. Tina

    Amy, those biquinto peppers are adorable, I’m a sucker for the shiny little red ones! I grew serranos for the first time last year and they made me so happy to see the shiny red POP! against the green foliage. I was glad that I had placed that one within view of my kitchen window.
    Thanks for sharing!
    P.S. I would love to see/hear about your favorite pepper varieties at the end of the season, like you do with the tomatoes. 🙂

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      You are welcome, Tina! And I will remember to write a favorite pepper post at the end of the season, especially for Tina! 🙂 Happy gardening, my friend!

  5. gene

    Your tomatoes are amazing. Much larger than mine in the high tunnel. They must totally love that hen house litter! Amazingly, my Biquinho peppers are now a big globe about 16″ in diameter. And there are lots of tiny peppers already set on. Rabbits just ate every single one of my shishito peppers – for the third time – and I have no more backups to replant. So far, I’ve harvested a few pounds of ordinary red tomatoes and a quart of cherry and grape tomatoes, quite a few small cukes and a couple of sweet peppers out of the high tunnel. Nothing outside yet, except the predictable radishes, green onions, baby turnips and kohlrabi. Oh yeh, 2 heads of broc so far. Stop by next time you’re heading to Lincoln on Hiway 33!

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