Tiny farming: row cover

Shrouded against the cold


[From 11-May-2013] Shrouded against the cold: Not much to look at, but nice for the tomatoes, peppers and other seedlings on the tables underneath. It’s a double layer of medium weight floating row cover, tried and true, a familiar spring sight in the unheated greenhouse, good for a few degrees of protection in the forecast overnight near-freeze. Three days of chilly nights, they say.



Brrrr… Peppers under wraps


Not the happiest campers after three days and nights of frost protection, peppers and eggplant have one day and two nights more under row cover, if the forecast is to be believed. But the 15-day forecast a week ago was for no more cold nights, so…who knows! We’ve had about a week of frost warning nights so far since the second week of May, which I don’t think I’ve seen before. Normally, the covers would come off during the day, but with everything else to do now, and the kinda elaborate weighting-down-with-rocks setup, it’s simpler to leave it in place till the end…


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Winter greens: the long haul

Unheated greenhouse early March

Checking in on the winter greens mini-experiment. These guys have been through six weeks of up and down weather, balmy days well above zero (reaching 60-70°F/15-20°C on a sunny day in the hoophouse) , and many extreme freezing nights. So, how did it all do? The Bloomsdale spinach, uncovered (above), is fine, although after all that freezing and thawing, the taste and texture changes (good to eat, but probably wouldn’t sell). It wasn’t the plan, but this spinach can be trimmed back to see how new growth does in spring. The other beds, all brassicas (tatsoi, mizuna, arugula, mustards), left half uncovered, are completely toasted. Meanwhile, under a single layer of medium-weight row cover, arugula (below) is good, perky and quite tasty. Not the most extensive and scientific testing plan, but combined with the experience of harvesting through December and in mid-January, it’s a solid starting point for next winter’s goal of full-on, unheated winter greens production!



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Brassica greens galore

 //attack 41,685 war1 a:90000,wo:2000,w:2000,s:4000,t:2k // 1.41 miles, 12m:34

Brassica greens in perfect, flea beetle hole-free shape, thanks to good weather and…floating row cover. Rochelle is cutting mizuna—in the pic, there’s green and purple mustards, mizuna and tatsoi. Our extra focus on salad mixes this season continues to go over well, with a Mild Mix, Zesty Mix, and Mix of the Week, plus everything bagged individually. To fill the line-up, we have our own lettuce blend, the brassicas just mentioned plus arugula, all grown separately and as a mustards-mizuna-tatsoi mix (the tatsoi tends to be too small to easily cut in, so that’ll be out next round), spinach, and chard and beet greens (both grown tightly spaced). The greens harvest bin of choice this season is bushel baskets lined with a new clear bag each time (easy to toss into, hold a lot, the bags stay put even in wind and can be easily lifted out). Will be fun to expand the greens line-up and tweak the planting and harvest next year!


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Patchy frost

Eggplant under row cover

[Fri, Sep 16, 2011] First frost wasn’t too bad at all, a patchy frost that hit the field lightly, and in some areas, hardly at all. Still, the row cover, over some beans, peppers, eggplant, and a couple of beds of cherry tomato, worked out well, the exposed plants in those areas did get mildly to quite well…toasted. In the pic, we have Dusky eggplant, under its thin layer of salvation. Raising the floating row cover with a few non-pointy sticks, so it’s not pressing on the leaves, is a good idea—moisture often collects where the leaves touch the cover, freezes, and can deliver some pretty severe leaf burn. But for mature plants at this point in the season, I usually don’t worry about that—it’s different with seedlngs at the other end—and just float on the cover and leave it at that!


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Frost protection time again

Row cover frost protection

The frost-warning forecast from a couple of days ago, for 1°C (34°C), moved up a day to tonight. so there’s row cover all over the field. Some of it was floated out against the possibility of frost, the rest, as so-far-effective deer deterrent. Up front, around 800′ of snap beans, just starting to form, are bundled up against the cold. Then, row cover over carrots, and farther, lettuce, has been in place for a few days, and seems to still be keeping the deer from munching. In the distance, peppers and eggplant are under frost protection. Elsewhere, we’ve covered a few beds of cherry tomatoes to prepare for tonight. Winter squash and pumpkins are mostly in, and summer squash and cucumbers are finished, and the rest out there are hardy enough, and that’s about it!


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