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

Time to eat out of the quick hoops

Under the salad quick hoop

The time has come to delve into the quick hoops....

Outside the quick hoops

Beyond our frost-protected areas, the garden is pretty much dead. There are still hints of green here and there, but most plants are too damaged to be easily harvestable and even the most winter-hardy kales and Swiss chard aren't worth eating. (Well, Artemesia begs to differ, but this is meant to be a goat-free post....)

Winter salad greens

On the other hand, under the quick hoops, the world is much brighter. Yes, that 8-degree night did damage even my protected greens more than I would have liked, but there's plenty of delicious lettuce, arugula, and kale just waiting for harvest anyhow.

Ready for some nitty-gritty details? We cut new fabric for our quick hoops this year, meaning that the first round of fabric lasted 36 months. When I first started with quick hoops, I estimated that our supplies cost 29 cents per square foot, which comes to about 10 cents per square foot per year over the three-year life span of the fabric. (Yes, that's an overestimate of the cost since I'll keep using the non-fabric parts of the quick hoops for many years to come, but you can think of that as a worst-case scenario.) Would you pay $4.50 plus an hour of your time for a 15-foot by 3-foot bed of fresh salad greens ready at the beginning of December? I know we would! That's why quick hoops continue to be one of my favorite parts of our gardening year even though they cost money and I'm a certified skinflint.

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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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what weight row cover are you guys using out there? we don't have near the harsh winters you've got but i do have several beds under low tunnels with agribon-19 on them just to keep things a bit warmer. i'm into my second season with this batch of fabric but it does tend to tear pretty easily---nothing a little duct tape won't take care of though. haven't figured out if it's less expensive to use the ag-19 or go with something heavier that might last longer. it's so interesting to me to see what methods (differences and similarities) are being used on the other edge of the country---thanks for sharing.
Comment by melina w staal Mon Dec 1 13:37:40 2014
I used row covers about 8 years ago and they didn't even last from spring into summer. They literally crumbled into dust. Now I recycle old shower curtains - the clear kind, and that works very nicely and lasts longer too!
Comment by Nayan Mon Dec 1 18:29:52 2014
It seems to me that the cost factor of being a skinflint could include gas you would use send Mark to the store to purchase not-so-good for you. let along not taste as good, fresh (?) greens. Add to that the time it takes to go to the store an back taking away time to do other more fun chores on the farm!!!
Comment by sheila Mon Dec 1 23:26:57 2014

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