Thursday, December 5, 2013

Freezing Rain Reflection

Has it really been 2 months since I last blogged? Eek gads. Where to even begin?

Frost & weather reports:
First frost: October 25th
First killing frost: November 11th

We had several evenings in the teens, followed by a week in the 50s-60's and now we are facing another week below freezing with a "wintery mix" that has begun (yesterday was 65F) with a thin sheet of pellets.

NOAA seasonal forecast says that the midwest will have an equal chance of both above or below normal conditions so...whatever that means.

Raised bed reports
The lettuces under cover in the brick bed are thriving. I cover them with an old heating blanket when it dipped in the teens and mulched around them with leaves. The seedlings (rutabaga, turnips) that were in the other brick bed have disappeared. Initially I had poor germination and then the rollies ate what was there and then they disappeared all together. I'm having more and more troubles with the rollies this year. I can't seem to keep seedlings or young starts. I guess I have too much mulch/protection for them.

Hoophouse report
The hoop house is doing great. It withstood some crazy winds that resulted in complete destruction of it last year. I only had to do a little tucking back into place this time. The ground has still not frozen inside. It can get incredibly warm in there on sunny days and at least one time ( a night around 14) I saw the first frost on the parsley (but near the doorway). Otherwise, seeds are germinating, stuff is growing (albeit slowly) and I'm harvesting kale, chard, parsley and cilantro. I am having problems with either or both rollies and slugs. I don't know what happened to my 3 toads, but they aren't doing their job!

I think the key is, and this is difficult to do, but to start seedlings earlier (during the heat and drought of the summer). The most successful plants are the kale and these were the ones the plants self-sowed themselves. Many of my transplants have been eaten or aren't growing quick enough to harvest. The peas are still growing and I hope to have an early crop from them. I should probably start more on the south side wall.

I've been amazed at the success of starting seeds in there. I think everything I started has germinated. The benefit of the seedlings in the containers raised off of the ground is that the rollies haven't discovered them either.
Stuff I'm eating in November.
Suggestions for next year:
Start winter seedlings earlier- probably will have to do this in the basement since it is so hot & dry outside late summer. Grow more peas in hoop. Have a pot of green onions in the hoop. The ones growing in the garden have been good, but the days in the teens frostbit the growing tips back. Keep more herbs in the hoop- parsley, thyme, marjoram, oregano, cilantro, etc. Add another shelf in the hoop for vertical gardening- gives more growing space w/o changing the footprint of the hoophouse.
Harvest more green maters. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I've actually been good at keeping up with eating them and not letting them rot in the basement this year AND they have been delish. How special is it to have fresh salsa in November?
100% fresh and homegrown salsa in November

 Hoophouse Dreams
    Lots of seedlings coming up in litter buckets.   

          Cilantro, spinach, lettuces, broc, pansies

           Happy Pansies                                                            

                                            Kale havested

Ginger slowly growing

 I need to have these every winter

Experimental yogurt cheese from 2lb container Greek yogurt.
Mix 3/4 tsp salt. Drain in cheesecloth, twisting tighter several times over 2-3 days.
Very nice on toast. 

Meager potato harvest. Kennebecs. I'll keep trying. The sweet potato harvest yield- 2, 5gallon buckets. Most had split, but were large. I started with 1 bundle of Georgia Jet starts.

                                              Made some Rhus Juice from sumac berries we collected on
         our Thanksgiving hike, mashed in warm water, 
strained and added honey. Good!

Try to appreciate the fine and rare things of winter. 
Until next post-Peace.