heating the beet

Tomato hoop house discovering its purpose (July 20)

We’re in the thick of summer and all systems go. Tomatoes are coming along nicely. The tomato production we’re getting now is about 2-3 weeks ahead of where we were this time last year…. likely due to planting earlier this year, and not having as many setbacks as last year (had some losses last year due to wind and heat). So we anticipate having a whole boatload of cherry tomatoes at the market from now until… maybe November? The larger slicer tomatoes will be fewer but should still be in attendance at the market.

Lettuce, microgreens, potted herbs, and eggs are all still rolling along. We seem to have hit a “cruising altitude” level with lettuce of around 20-30 bags per week. The goal was to consistently average 30 bags a week, so we’re slightly under that so far, but we’ll see how the rest of the season plays out. We’ve had a great go of it so far with Hidden Julles in Haymarket, who have been buying whatever lettuce and tomatoes we don’t sell at the Manassas farmer’s market. And we’re providing a limited supply of duck eggs to Buckland Farm Market each week.

One side tangent on our tomato hoop house: Back in late April, we had put fully-sealed endwalls up on the tomato house with framing, doors, poly, wiggle wire, etc. And then to ventilate the hoop house, we rolled up the poly on one long side about 3 feet and duct taped the poly to each hoop. Well that was all well and good for a couple months… but then one particular Saturday in June (Saturday, June 18 to be specific), we had a really windy day at the market (where one of our tents briefly blew over). Anyway, while the farmer’s market was underway that morning, back at the farm the plastic on our tomato house had completely ripped off its moorings due to said wind blowing in through said rolled-up side secured with said duct tape. See photo below…

Nothing a little duct tape won’t fix (or cause). June 18

What followed after this discovery was a period of shame for having secured poly with nothing but duct tape… followed by some quick online ordering of new poly and coming up with a new ventilation plan. So we had totally exposed tomatoes hanging on trellises for maybe a week while we waited on new plastic to arrive. We put up some extra wind bracing and then got the poly on and breathed a sigh of relief. But long story short, our new ventilation plan was to remove the poly from the endwalls…. which is why you don’t see poly on the endwalls in the top photo!

Anyway, proper (or at least better and somewhat automated) hoop house ventilation is one of our top focus items now and we’re hoping to get some electric, thermostat-controlled ventilation going before the end of the season. We’ll keep you posted on that.

Hope to see you at the market Saturday!

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