Overnight snow turned our muddy browns of spring back to white, and after a spell of welcome warmth, it’s cold days and freezing nights again for most of the next week or two, if forecasts turn out to be right. Waiting for the field to dry out enough to work, which in recent erratic-weather years has been anywhere from early April to late May, makes it hard to plan things in general, but this is not unexpected, it’s just what it is. And spring weather has been known to suddenly and dramatically change from one day to the next. Surprise!
Transplanting lettuce into the unheated greenhouse, filling it out in small sections to work around wetter areas. The seedlings, waiting for drier conditions, stayed a couple of weeks longer in trays than ideal—now they’re a little floppy and stretched, but I’m confident they’ll figure it out. This first spring, seeing how the ground dries in the new hoophouse is part of the learning curve. Tiny farming!
Lettuce seedlings get their first taste of full-on springtime sunshine. Next stop, into the ground in the greenhouse. I wouldn’t call this hardening off, some of these are being transplanted later today—tomorrow’s cloudy forecast should give them all the post-transplant adjustment break they need, then bring on the sun! (Starring in this pic, always reliable Black Seeded Simpson.)
Yesterday’s harvest that went to today’s farmers’ market, my earliest market start by almost two months! From the unheated greenhouse: kale, green and red mustard, and lettuce mix times two. Harvest conditions: -2°C outside, a perfect-working-weather 10°C inside. At the end, the sun came out and it started to get sweatingly hot under a T-shirt, shirt and fleece. But, already done! No rinsing, just covered and into a cool room for a 6 a.m. pick-up this morning. It felt a little odd, starting the year’s Saturday markets so early, and indoors—this fall, if all goes as intended, weekly market will cease to end for winter and become instead a fully year-round thing…
This bowl of lettuces and kale is the first cut of spring, taken from the unheated greenhouse while snow flurries whip around outside. With the help of 6 mils of plastic and some row cover, the salad easily survived three months of winter, with temperatures that went down to -30°C (-22°F). The texture and color are good, the taste, deliciously bold. Fantastic! The flowers are bok choi that managed to bolt in the alternating warmth and cold—on sunny days, the hoophouse temperature could easily reach 10-15°C (50-59°F), even when it was sub-zero outside. Interesting!
Staring up close at a stack of 72-cell plug sheets in webbed trays. Exactly where most of the transplant seedlings around here get started…!
The snow’s gone, replaced by puddles and mud. You can still see the road through the trees—the only aerial green so far is evergreen. An overall browned-out scene, but what’s not in the pic is the vigorous twittering of birds, the tantalizing hint of real warmth in the still chilly air, the slightly musty dampness of winter earth waking up, as the outdoors steadily gets ready to…explode!