Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Tackling the Jungle

Ahh, the annual summertime jungle-fest in the hoophouse.  Even though I trim and tie up and have shade cloth and water every other day, it eventually turns out like this:
Vines everywhere, fruit hidden beneath layers of jubilant leaves, and signs of imminent blight due to poor airflow around the plants.  I was gifted with a day of clouds and threatening rains, which was great because working in the hoophouse on a sunny day in summer is just plain unpleasant.  After about an hour of snipping and pruning and ruthless thinning, I was left with this:
Wow.  Just look at all that airflow now.
Yeah, it can look pretty denuded when I'm done, but I find this trick of removing 80% of the foliage really gets the fruit to ripen.  Plus, given the conditions in the hoophouse, the plants tend to grow and grow and GROW forever, creating more vine and leaves than fruit.  Once I see that they've set a good harvest, which usually happens at the beginning of August, I prune like a mad woman and then, miraculously, the fruit ripens and I don't have an acre of plant to battle when picking.  It also helps for fall plantings, as I can pull the plants when they are done ripening fruit and then plant in my spinach, chard, kale and other delicious fall crops that can have an extended harvest in the hoophouse.
Speaking of extended harvest, I have a planned experiment coming up in the hoophouse for late fall into winter.  I can't wait to see if it works!

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