Gardening

Hoop house lettuce survives Arctic Vortex

People have been asking me how the lettuce in my hoop house looks after this month’s Polar Vortex.

Out here in the countryside we had one night of -20 degrees F then, three nights in a row of -13 degrees F. I was sure all of my lettuce would be dead after exposure to that kind of temperature. So, I waited a few days to dig out the snow away from the door so I could get in to take a look at my crop.

As it turns out, most of the lettuce survived. The plants that I planted early in the season and had a chance to become established, came through nicely.

The second crop — the ones I planted later in the season — did not make it. Those plants never had enough time to grow into strong plants before the extreme cold arrived.

I should mention that a single layer of ¬†plastic greenhouse covering wasn’t the only thing sheltering the lettuce. I also added an extra layer of plastic sheeting over the plants in a kind of hoop tunnel within a hoop house arrangement.

Here I am still cutting lettuce from my hoop house. The blue material is plastic bubble wrap.

Here I am still cutting lettuce from my hoop house. The blue material is plastic bubble wrap.

Then just before the vortex really got cranking, I covered the inner tunnel with a layer of over-sized sheet of bubble wrap.  I believe that is what made the difference between life and death for those plants.

Now I’m back to harvesting fresh lettuce again and will probably run out of lettuce before winter is over.

Bob Dluzen
As a result of being a gardener for more than 40 years, 30 of those as a professional, Bob's gardening has become an integral part of his life. "It's the ever-changing seasons and the wide variety of plants and gardens that keeps me intrigued," he says. Bob lives and gardens in rural Monroe County.