Heating Innovation in the Hoop House

Last winter, Ann and I researched and contemplated many different heating options for the hoop house.  We almost purchased a heater several times but kept holding back. The cost, maintenance and backup for any type of heating system – whether it be propane, wood, gas – outweighed the profit and maintenance required.

We also did a tremendous amount of research on growing in cold houses.  Where we reside, the weather patterns appear to be changing.  Winter seems to be at full force in March these days and creeps into the month of April. Sometimes it feels as if the spring season has been shortened and we jump right into summer weather.  This obviously has an impact on gardening and farming in the northeast.  Everyone expects farm fresh vegetables in the late spring, early summer and, as a farm, we need to devise ways to deliver.

For HeartBeet Farms, we find it best to maintain a hoop house (without heat), grow cold weather plants, start the warm weather plants inside the hoop house and use covers and some type of heating method to warm the seedlings when needed.

Seed Germination Temperature Ranges

Seedstarting timetableFor each type of seed, whether it be lettuce, carrots, spinach or beans, there is a range of temperatures at which that type of seed will germinate.  So if you are growing on a schedule, it is critical to support these temperatures. The chart by Kathy LaLiberte is a great overview of some of the temperatures required for popular vegetables and fruits.  

Economic Heating Pad Solutions for Seed Germination

Last season, we purchased a few heating pads and heating thermometers which cost us about $300 for one table.  To fill the hoop house of over 30 tables, that would be very expensive, even with discounts.  So Detective Ann Pellegrino searched the internet for ideas to help keep our seedlings warm.  Ann discovered one solution that has proven to be very successful for us. With the use of a bottom heat mat built using clips, wood, and incandescent rope lights, we found an economical and effective solution.  The video below is a great step by step on how to construct these heating mats.

After Ann found the solution and purchased the supplies, Peter set out to build the solution and has successfully built heating for several tables in the hoop house.  You can see Peter hard at work in these pictures! And so far so good as our seeds are germinating!  For those attending our CSA tour and soup tasting on May 19th, you can check out our heating mats!

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