[From 28 Apr 2016] After a couple of early spring weeks in the greenhouse, transplanted lettuces and totally uninvited weeds are all doing exceptionally well! The sun climbs and the growing picks up speed…
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…
There’s official calendar Spring, and then there’s spring in the field, that ignores exact dates and goes by the weather, marking winter as over whenever the freezing temperatures end. If today’s two-week weather forecast is anything to go by—it is, in this case, when being off by ±5-10°C (14-23°F) either way isn’t a big concern—market garden spring starts now. For the moment, I’m mainly concerned about overnight lows in the unheated greenhouse, and whether row cover is necessary. If it stays above -15-20°C, my safe-with-no-cover cutoff, it should be fine to pull back the covers and let the sun shine in (prepared, of course, to put it right back if there’s a sudden severe dip, which we hope doesn’t happen). Nothing complicated, just a little of the gambling that’s called working with the seasons!