Dahlia Season: Plant, Support, Irrigate & Groom forum: Growing in Hoop Houses

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portia
Oct 30, 2014 7:56 PM CST
Southern PA, Brandywine
Had to share... the farm I volunteer on still has dahlias going like mad in her hoophouse, we harvested a ton of blown blooms yesterday and I brought two big bunches home. Here is one of them... I swoon over this hot pink...the color is a bit too vibrant in this photo but I think it may be Excentric. It's amazing en masse.

Thumb of 2014-10-31/portia/63cc18
ImageDarcyD
Oct 30, 2014 9:34 PM CST
Name: Darcy D
Green Oaks, Illinois
Jealous, I miss my flowers!! I want a hoop house now Hilarious!
portia
Oct 31, 2014 6:37 AM CST
Southern PA, Brandywine
I know Darcy! I am currently racking my brain to see how I can afford and fit one for next year.There is a local place selling a used one that I may check into.

Here's a pic of the hoophouse before we harvested. She has Sherwood Peach which is a monster bloom and we picked four bunches of at least 20, it was insane how big those bunches were.

Thumb of 2014-10-31/portia/f6664a
ImageDarcyD
Oct 31, 2014 7:03 AM CST
Name: Darcy D
Green Oaks, Illinois
Nice!! How much does that extend the season, do you know?

I'd never in a million years get that one by the hubby. Just yesterday as I was talking about gathering neighbors leaves Whistling for my lasagna garden (new bed for the collarettes) he said he doesn't want to lose any more lawn. ACK! Seriously, I have big plans for many more beds Rolling on the floor laughing
portia
Oct 31, 2014 7:40 AM CST
Southern PA, Brandywine
I think for her about 6-7 weeks, she had her first frost in the field about 2 weeks ago. I know it helps them bloom earlier and they stay later as well. We will dig the field tubers next week, but I think the hoophouse will stay for another few weeks.She does weddings into November.

The HH I found is 16x96, way bigger than I was thinking but it's such a good price. Hmm early xmas present? lol.
ImageDarcyD
Oct 31, 2014 7:44 AM CST
Name: Darcy D
Green Oaks, Illinois
Do it, do it Big Grin
ImageIslander
Oct 31, 2014 8:12 AM CST
Name: Noni Morrison
Warren, Oregon
retired flower farmer
That would definitely put you into the business! Are you prepared to replace the outer plastic after the remnants of hurricanes go through? My daughter in Maine had to do that. A few air born branches can do a lot of damage.

I would love a hoophouse but can't figure out any place to put it that would not spoil the view, without taking down my 2 acre forest, then I would loose the privacy and woodland that I bought the place for in the beginning...I think they are a wonderful thing to have though. Love working inside hers in March when the ground is covered in deep snow!
Salish Dahlias
portia
Oct 31, 2014 9:31 AM CST
Southern PA, Brandywine
Out here we don't get touched by hurricanes too often (knock on wood of course!) so it would hopefully be fine, I think it needs replacing every few years anyway depending on what you get. And thankfully the plastic is not too cost prohibitive. The framing and all that is what can be so pricey. Too bad I didn't get into this 2-3 years ago because the NRCS actually paid for a fair amt of hoophouses for growers across the US for a research study they were doing, lots of the flower farmers I follow managed to get one for free/almost free! I checked my local CraigsList to find there is a local company making them out of recycled pipes for relatively good pricing--and then there is the random one up for sale here and there.
ImageIslander
Oct 31, 2014 10:18 AM CST
Name: Noni Morrison
Warren, Oregon
retired flower farmer
Yes, that was how my daughter got hers. through that program. They had to be growing food with theirs though...one more year and it will be theirs completely I think, They had to provide data from their market business for 3 years, then it is totally theirs. In the meantime, a neighbor asked them to manage the hoop houses on the property they had just bought so she can grow anything she wants there, as long as she shares the profits with them. She has been trying Dahlia in it but they seemed to be coming on too slowly. I think they got better this last month but she will be digging this week I think she said. She can't find many other dahlia growers in Maine besides the ones in Camden to ask cultural questions too, and her climate is one zone colder.
Salish Dahlias
portia
Nov 2, 2014 10:35 AM CST
Southern PA, Brandywine
Thanks for moving this over CC!

I'm actually attending a seminar this coming wkd at a local farm on extending the growing season with hoop houses... so we'll see what I learn.
ImageCCvacation
Nov 2, 2014 12:47 PM CST
Name: CC
PA
There seems to be lots of interest in hoophouses right now... We'd all be interested in what you learn, too!
CC
Imageteddahlia
Nov 2, 2014 3:12 PM CST
Name: Ted
Oregon
We enjoy breeding new dahlias!
Cannot imagine having to grow dahlias in a hoophouse to get them to bloom early. Here in Oregon City, they bloom early enough for me and a hoop house is really a green house and needs lot of maintenance. I suppose that one could get them to bloom in June instead of July but there would be lots of work.

On the other side of the equation, we are planning to try shade cloth for some of our dahlias and I am considering using hoophouse type materials to build it. We already have a hoophouse (quonset style)greenhouse and the company that sold it to us is about 15 miles down the road. They sell greenhouses to large operations and small and we can specify how tall we we want the the shaded area and they will make the the parts. It is probably just a matter of making the legs longer. Looking at their website we would need a low profile quonset type greenhouse with longer legs to raise the height, so that the plants would have at least 10 feet of headroom. I like the idea of the quonset as it should be easy to raise and lower the shade cloth as needed. It is easily done on our greenhouse and we leave the shade cloth on it when it get hot in late Spring.
We like to place a sign on our porch that says: We are in the garden. Really, we are always in the garden.
anniecan
Nov 2, 2014 4:18 PM CST
Name: Annie Luck
Apex, North Carolina
BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE IN TH
I had a small 20x10 greenhouse about 30 years ago. While I LOVED it, I would never do it again simply because it keeps you busy ALL YEAR LONG. I work way too much in the garden as it is. I need some time in the winter to get my house and life in order. My husband is losing his patience with my deferred maintenance. Plus, winter is a great time to visit my family in Florida I agree
portia
Nov 2, 2014 8:28 PM CST
Southern PA, Brandywine
I can see if it's an important part of your business or you have help with it--in a colder climate it can make sense.
I know a lot of the flower farmers DO like the time off that they get in the months of winter to plan and catch up, but having dahlias or other warm weather flowers even just a few weeks earlier and a few weeks later can make sense especially if you are the 'first' in your area to have certain flowers for florists or weddings OR you have flowers later after other farmers have tilled their beds--you can command a much higher price for them.

I joined the Growing for Market group which puts out newsletters and lots of articles written by farmers and it's interesting to read about things like extending the season for people in the trade.

Another thing that a lot of the flower farmers grow in the HH's are ranunculus or anemones which take colder weather well so they grow them in winter in the HH's. They don't often heat the houses, put 1-2 layers of additional insulation via lower tunnels.

And the farm I work on, she doesn't really do much maintenance to the HH in the growing season--though in the winter she does have to keep the snow off it--which depending on the climate can be a fair amt of work!
anniecan
Nov 3, 2014 8:53 AM CST
Name: Annie Luck
Apex, North Carolina
BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE IN TH
That all makes perfect sense Portia.
My marriage (and my sanity) just wouldn't allow for that these days.
ImageCCvacation
Nov 5, 2014 7:14 AM CST
Name: CC
PA
Here's a message concerning hoop houses that was posted on another dahlia forum...

Quoting:
This is Nicki from Tall Grass Farms and I am happy to share any info on growing dahlias in a hoop house. We have had several years where we kept getting frost in the last week in August, and decided we had enough! We put up our first hoop house and now we don't know how we survived without it. We plant around the first of April, start cutting around the middle of June and cut until the end of October. You can extend the season even longer but generally need to add some sort of lighting as the stems become very weak. In the hoop house the flowers are much quicker to re-bloom after cutting, and with much longer stems.

We have pictures of our greenhouse posted on our facebook page at Tall Grass Farms if you want to see what it looks like. We will have a few updated pictures in the next few days showing the end of the year tuber harvesting. We have about 800 plants in a 20x96 hoop house however, this makes it too crowded. We will go back to our old layout with about 600 plants next year.
CC
portia
Nov 5, 2014 2:23 PM CST
Southern PA, Brandywine
wow 600 plants! That's awesome.

Yes today I was back at the farm and saw the HH dahlias still going strong! She said she wasn't sure how much longer they'd last--normally by this time they are done, but we have had a relatively mild fall so she said in about a week she'd cut them down because she needs to get her ranunculus going.

She starts in April and so it looks like they go til about Nov here. I definitely am hoping to get one within the next year but it's on the 'list' which at this point starts with 'move' lol.

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