Category Archives: greenhouses

3 Picks: France Farmer Suicides, Henlights, Indoor Cropping

Below, are today’s three chosen agricultural-related news picks.

1) Male farmers in France are 20 percent more likely to take their own lives than the rest of the population: A new report says that financial pressures and social isolation are the leading causes. According to figures from France’s National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies, revenue from farming fell by 23.6 percent between 2007 and 2008 and a further 35.3 percent between 2008 and 2009. Livestock farmers have been hit the worst.

2) Increasing Egg Production On Small Farms: A Solution To The International Food Crisis? By Abigail Wick.In Berlin on September 20-22, the 2013 Thought for Food Global Summit (TFF) convened thought leaders from 25 countries, including venture capitalists, politicians, scientists, entrepreneurs, artists, and university students to address the international food crisis from a wide array of disciplines, with the aim of generating collaborative, actionable strategies to feed the planet. … The winning team, from the University of California at Davis, introduced Henlights. A small, solar-powered LED light designed to be hung in chicken coops, Henlight can be used to stimulate increased egg production during darker winter months, when egg production naturally declines. A technique already use in large-scale egg production, Henlight makes this practice affordable for small-scale and family farms.

3) Optimism About the Future of Indoor Food Production: By Tess Riley. Hydroponics and LED lights used in indoor greenhouses, though the systems are expensive to build, have the potential to greatly increase vegetable yields, and protect plants from unpredictable weather. The increasing use of renewables as heat and energy sources in these systems is the way forward.

BONUS: Photos from Boston Globe’s “Big Picture” on the 2013 harvest from around the world.

This news post was written and compiled by K. McDonald.

Extend Your Growing Season with Simple Backyard Coldframes or Hoop Gardens

“Spring is the time of plans and projects.”
― Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

This one’s for the gardeners. The days are getting longer and we have a renewed hope for spring, that annual rebirth, the guarantee for a brand new growing season. Yesterday I already heard the first of the season’s Red Winged Blackbirds singing along South Boulder Creek. The Sandhill Cranes will be appearing in Nebraska shortly to fatten up on their way to Siberia, and the gardening catalogues are rolling in, too.

Serious gardeners itch for ways to extend the season both in the early spring and in the late fall. Here’s hoping that some of the photos below will serve to inspire you to take on a project to extend the season in your own space.

Here where I live in plant hardiness Zone 5 in Colorado, we raise greens for all but three months of the year in our backyard, and our seasonal extension comes from adding a four by six foot hoop garden bed. Our hoop garden is located under an evergreen tree which takes advantage of the sun’s angle in the off season for growing, and is shaded in the summertime. By locating it in such a spot we are not only extending the growing season, we have extended the available precious growing space available in the yard.

Don’t forget to know your seeds. By planting greens with the best cold tolerance, you can extend your season even more. Some seeds worth considering are spinach, mache, arugula, chard, claytonia, radish, winter lettuce mixes, italian dandelion, and mizuna.

Below, is a collection of photos of other gardener’s projects meant to inspire you to come up with a design that works well in your space…….

In this first photo, a hoop garden greenhouse was built to fit over an existing raised garden bed.

Next, here is a tidy cold frame made from corrugated plastic and a wooden frame benefiting from the thermal solar collection of the brick wall behind it. Thermal heat can be improved by adding plastic gallon milk jugs filled with water against the back wall of the coldframe, too.

This classic cold frame is located on the protected and sunny south side of a house using wood and plastic as materials.

Here someone has utilized an urban front yard space to grow a garden containing a simple A-frame plastic greenhouse. The small photo to the right shows an inner detail of that same greenhouse space showing us that the frame is constructed with strong bamboo posts.

This simple project was done by a boy with just plastic and left over bricks. The family will be able to reclaim the space easily for their summer garden.

This gardener used jars as mini-greenhouses to start seeds. The setup extended the season just slightly for lettuces grown on a protected bench behind a house.

The photo below shows us what appears to be the gardening space of a very serious Chicago gardener. Multiple growing beds are covered with spun polyester garden fabric and black plastic mulch is covering spaces between the beds.

For those desiring something bigger, here’s a simple, small backyard greenhouse that was a d.i.y. project using plastic and a wood frame with a corrugated plastic roof. (It looks like it needs a spot protected from the wind.)

Finally, this busy grower utilized indoor windows to the maximum, to start tomatoes early in recycled plastic food containers.