[From 1-March-2013] 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!
[From 31-Aug-2012] 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!
[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!
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!
, frost protection
, row cover
, summer squash
, winter squash
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First frost on Friday? It all depends on whose forecast you believe in. Because, as I’ve discovered over time, all weather forecasts are not created equal. The online weather page we’ve used for the last few years is often in sync with the others, but when it comes to cold, it can go its own way, and it’s usually right. Here, we have a low of 1°C for Friday, OR, I can go for a more veggie-friendly choice of two 6°C’s and a 5°C, from three of the big weather outlets. That’s the difference for me between row covering all the tender crops we’d like to save, and…not. There is a pattern: sites like this one that’re based on Environment Canada’s weather service (that’s the Canadian government) tend to be several degrees lower and more accurate. So it’s on with the row cover on Friday, then wait and see!
Tonight is the first real frost watch of the year. I covered a bunch of beds for a couple of nights last week, but the chance of frost seemed slim, with the overnight forecast around 35°F (<2°C). Today, they say it’s supposed to go down to 33°F (0.5°C), with clear skies and no wind, perfect frost conditions. Under cover: peppers, eggplant, summer squash, beans, cucumber (a really late experimental planting), basil, sweet potato (above). It’s floating row cover is the usual Agribon AG-19, in 14′ ((4.3m) widths. Let’s see how it goes…!