We were finally able to replace the old hoop house in the spring of 2016. Christmas morning of 2013 I took Stella for a walk in the newly fallen snow, totaling more than 25” by that time and looked over to the hoop house and it looked quite odd! I went inside and lo and behold the weight of the snow had squashed half of the entire length of the house to the ground. Oh, boy now what! Spring of 2014 we were able to get a skid loader over here and with some chains we pulled the bows back into shape…well kind of, at least good enough to put some poly on and use the space again. The next spring the same thing happened, squashed to the ground and no way to repair it, only replace. So, for 2015 we just looked at the decrepit shell of the old girl while I noodled how I was going to replace it.
Because this hoop house has a very thick bed of road gravel for the base, there was no way of using the space for growing in ground. The best way to utilize the space was to construct raised beds. After a lot of back and forth with a couple of grower friends of mine, we finally decided on a ½ topsoil ½ compost mixture in the raised beds. We purchased a load of local topsoil and a load of excellent local compost and borrowed a little skid loader and filled our raised beds. We tried dahlias, dusty miller, lisianthus, scented geraniums, and lavender in the boxes. We only built boxes in half of the house and are looking forward in 2017 to finish building boxes in the rest of the house. Now affectionately known as the Box House, we will grow dahlias, lisianthus, late blooming salvia, and probably dusty miller again. I also want to try some frilly cosmos, scabiosa, and who knows what else. The Box house has the same screening as our Dahlia House so it provides an excellent insect barrier to many flowers that are shredded outside by our nemesis the Northern Corn Root Worm beetle. The house also has heat and electricity so this January we planted Icelandic poppies, anemones, and ranunculus.
A good friend and previous employee asked me the other day: “What are you going to do new this year, you always switch it up”? Well, we are adding poppies, never have grown poppies yet. Also Madame Butterfly snaps are now available in single colors, so we will be growing several colors of those. A lot more flowers will be going to the Fair Field Flowers truck this year since one of my dear colleagues Joe Schmitt will be finally retiring from full time growing. We purchased one of his Drangens and look forward to learning how to use it. Stay tuned for pictures of us planting and weeding laying down! You are invited as always to join us to cut flowers or just walk around for a visit to see where your flowers come from!