The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Quick hoops and insects

Winter greens

I don't want you to think that life under the quick hoops is entirely worry-free.  The winter protection does make one garden problem much worse --- bugs.

Insect on row cover fabricSome people use row cover fabric to keep insects out.  For example, you can cover up your eggplants in the summer and prevent flea beetle damage.  Or, if you're running breeding experiments, you can uncover different varieties of the same species on alternate days to allow for wild pollination but not cross-pollination.

Unfortunately, row covers keep out all of the beneficial insects too --- like ladybugs to eat up the aphids that seem to grow like crazy on my winter greens.  I'm not sure what these tiny flies are or what eats them, but I'd like some of those predators inside my quick hoops too.

Learn to keep bugs at bayI've ranted at length about the downside of greenhouses --- most relevantly, the fact that you have to supply most ecosystem functions yourself rather than relying on the earth to do the work for you.  It looks like quick hoops share at least a one of these flaws.

On the upside, I'll be moving the quick hoops in just a couple of months, so these insect infestations will soon be a thing of the past.  I can just hear the hibernating ladybugs planning their entrance strategy.

Our chicken waterer makes care of the flock clean, quick, and easy.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I ran across your site a week ago. I have enjoyed the hours each day that I have spent reading your back posts. You guys are the site I have been looking for since I got my computer.

You are living the life that is the closest to my life style for the past decade. I appreciate the joy, the success and the funny failures that you have gone through.

Hubby and I thought we were the only ones to have some of the stupidest but funniest incidents happen on our homestead.

Well, hubby told me that our son is getting us a "nook" or something similar for Christmas. We wont see him until Febrary. But when we get it your "Weekend homsteader" projects for 99 cents will be the first items on our list.

Thank you for being there for me.

Comment by Mona Sun Jan 15 00:00:10 2012
I'm glad you're enjoying the blog! Have fun on your homestead!
Comment by anna Sun Jan 15 09:03:25 2012

Although I can understand your reasoning in why quick hoops work better than greenhouses, I still fantasize about having a warm(er) spot in which to garden during the winter (or when it's raining for that matter). Have you ever thought of erecting a greenhouse so that you have a spot to retreat to when you just can't muster trudging out in the cold or is that not an issue for you? Even without supplemental heat, a greenhouse would still be theoretically warmer than the outside air if positioned correctly. I'm all about working smart not harder if that is what quick hoops can provide, but the advantages would quickly disappear if I don't get myself out into the garden at all. :)

Comment by Sarah Mon Jan 16 15:52:00 2012

The type of winter garden I talk about (ie no external heat except the sun) doesn't need work in the winter except harvesting. It's very rarely too drab outside for me to be willing to go out and pick some delicious fresh kale!

By the time I start working in the garden again (a bit in February, more in March), I've got so much cabin fever I'd go out in pouring rain. :-)

Comment by anna Mon Jan 16 17:25:41 2012
I see what you mean. I was envisioning frozen appendages and dreary wet work, but I guess I wasn't paying enough attention to the level of actual garden work you do in winter. I know you've mentioned that winter is the time to take a break from the gardening chore overload - makes sense now. I'd still like to have an attached south-facing greenhouse someday, but it's good to know that the garden can produce year-round without one. Thanks!
Comment by Sarah Mon Jan 16 18:11:19 2012
I've heard Eliot Coleman's style of winter gardening described this way --- you're not actually growing a winter garden, you're just getting the crops to the stage where they can sit there all winter to be picked. In essence, it's a fresh winter larder.
Comment by anna Mon Jan 16 19:45:41 2012

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