Sundown in the hoophouse

Sundown in the hoophouse

Not your typical postcard sunset, and it’s kinda chilly, damp and mucky in here, even as the temperature outside slides down to an overnight -15°C (5°F). But it’s all about the greens, tucked under a couple of layers of row cover, maybe not exactly cozy with only ground heat to keep them warm—who knows how they’re really feeling—still, well-set to survive another sub-zero night. With that in mind, sundown through 6 mil plastic is a cheery-enough sight to see!

Great gloves get a little better!

Good fieldwork gloves for fall and winter

How excited can you get about a pair of gloves that you use to work in the field? Quite! Although enthusiastic may be the better word. This style of glove I’ve used for a while, for fall and winter, in cold weather. I wrote about their many fine features a while back—this particular version is the best yet, with the grippy, waterproof coating extending just far enough down the back so that they don’t get wet during normal handling of soggy stuff, while allowing enough open, breathable area so your hands don’t sweat. What more can I say?!

Cold crop lettuce

Lettuce mix in winter

Lettuce in the unheated greenhouse, under a couple of layers of medium-weight row cover, is doing fine so far, firm and tasty after weeks of sub-freezing nights, all the way down to -30°C (-22°F). Now there’s even a noticeable bit of grow-back from the last cut, late December (even the weeds are getting in on the protection, see bottom left). My first full-winter tiny farming experiment continues…!

Wire work

Fence wire as row cover support

Electric fence wire work, snipping 6-foot pieces of 9-gauge wire for hoops to hold up floating row cover in the greenhouse. Hopefully this wire is stiff enough to do the job, supporting up to three layers of row cover, heavy with moisture from humidity and being dripped on by water condensed on the inside of the hoophouse plastic, or weighed down by ice, when the soaked cover freezes at night. This test batch of about 180′ came coiled, in a circle about 2½’ in diameter, and the built in curve is perfect for stretching slightly to span about 4′ of bed. So, no bending required, it’s all about the snipping!

Working around steel

Bed preparation and hoophouse steel

Exactly where it was delivered last fall, the steel for the new hoophouse is kinda in the way, so we’re working around it (it doesn’t look like much in the pic, but it will expand into 30’x108’x16’H of plastic-covered year-round field protection). Beds of brassica greens are already in and protected by row cover from flea beetle attack. Lisa preps beds for more. Spring direct seeding proceeds…

Picking rocks

Rocks in front end loader bucket

We have rocks, it’s not a big deal when you get used to them, although I suppose I’d really notice the difference if suddenly all the rocks vanished. As it is, little ones like these are usually ignored, but in one small area they were dense as cobblestones, so we picked them… The method: pick ’em up, toss ’em into the Kubota compact tractor bucket, when the bucket’s full, dump it on one of the rather large rock piles. With two or more people, you can spread out and toss rocks into piles from a convenient tossing radius, and travel around with the Kubota, loading the piles into the bucket. It’s really quite straightforward. And quite quick. Of course, there’s a mechanical alternative, with various tractor-run contraptions for removing rocks in large volume. It’s all about scale, and how many hands and rocks you have!