Sunday, January 31, 2010

Green under the snow

January seems an unlikely time of year to grow anything, much less veggies. But alas the kitchen garden is still growing. It has been a cold winter for Middle Tennessee and my plan of year round gardening has been a challenge to say the least.

In December we had temperature lows of 8 degrees. I buttoned down the hatches as best I could with an extra layer of plastic over the hoop house and various cold frames.

I lost a few things, some lettuces mostly and a few brussel sprouts. Everything else is either thriving (Swiss chard, kale and various spicy greens) or just hanging on waiting for warmer weather to jump start once again I hope (broccoli and cauliflower).

I’ve learned a lot along the way and have done little to aid just to see how the extreme weather conditions will affect my crops. I will make changes accordingly next year but this year has been one big experiment.

We recently had another winter storm with about 4-5 inches of snow with night time temperatures ranging from the teens to the twenties. I finally got out this morning to check on everything.

The kitchen garden was happy with its blanket of snow and as I lifted the cold frames, the salad greens, kale and Swiss chard were snug and un-frozen – lucky for me as I had not been able to give them extra cover since I had been under the weather myself.

The hoop house was sagging from the snow but it was okay after I removed the snow and tightened the plastic back down. It is suppose to be back in the forties tomorrow with below freezing temperatures for many nights to come. February should be a busy month in the kitchen garden and I’m looking forward to planting potatoes, peas and more greens….bon appetite!


Anonymous said...

Wow! You have a lot of raised beds. Hope you are enjoying the mild day today as we are, Cindy.

Cindy Shapton said...

I am enjoying the milder days, thanks. Hope it is the beginning of spring but I fear it is only a teaser!

Anonymous said...

It seems that a lot of our country has been heavily impacted by a "real" winter.

One advantage of winter is there is more time for research. I was googling "Does licorice mint attract honey bees?" I was brought to a post by Cracked Pot Gardener! Your February 17, 2009 post gave me the "yes" answer plus I learned that the perennial Agastache I planted two years ago was Anise Hyssop or Licorice Mint. The honey bees love it.

I immediately signed up for your blog and ordered your book.

Planting my 2010 garden will be delayed due to cataract surgery in mid April. However, last October I planted about 400 cloves of garlic, let them grow until just before frost, and then covered them with straw for its winter blanket. At least I know that while I convalesce, the garlic and other perennials will be growing under a warm spring sun [hopefully].

Last spring I put in 5 raised beds and I saw a big bonus in the growing rate; the fresh growing medium on top of exhausted soil paid off.

Cindy, how deep are your raised beds and what supports them? I will add five more small raised beds this September.

I'll end here by saying that it is snowing again outside of Boston.


Cindy Shapton said...

This winter has been great for gardening via books and the net!

I'm so glad you are making your local honey bees happy with Anise hyssop.

Raised beds are so easy and you are right about being able to boost production with a new (or in my case old horse poop) growing medium.

My raised beds are 8"-10", they settled some over the growing season so I topped them off last fall.

I started out with 9 beds last spring using concrete blocks for three of them and untreated pine boards that were 12" in height.

I added 7 more beds last fall using rough sawn cedar from a local mill. the boards are only
6" tall and are plenty deep enough for most crops. I like to experiment with different heights and materials to see what works me crazy (my hubby does)I used metal L brackets on the inside corners to hold them together.

How deep are your beds? What material and growing medium does a gardener use in New England?

Thats alot of garlic, you will be one healthy gardener, I'm planting garlic this week.

All the best with your surgery, Eddie - your garden will truly be a beautiful site!

Thanks for ordering my book - it will be on its way today :)

Looks like March is coming in like a lion with snow on the way!

Anonymous said...

Cindy, "The Cracked Pot Herb Book" has arrived by mail; maybe if you sell enough books, you will be able to save our Postal service!

I skimmed the book and it's very interesting; I must consider the Companion Planting page. I created two herb gardens last year and now I have to determine herb compatibility this summer.

Thanks for the personal message; I like a folksy approach. Also, I will recommend your book on my Sustainability board [see my profile].

The herb book is small enough to store on the shelf of my night stand for late night reading.

My raised beds are only four inches high. I used discarded garden edging for their sides and supported them with ten-inch tent pegs. Future raised bed will be deeper, to support such veggies as carrots and leeks.

My growing medium for the raised beds mainly consists of kitchen and leaf compost, rotted straw, loam, and topped off with chicken manure. Since I'm no where near the country side and since I don't drive, my selection is limited.

I also have about 25 containers for my peppers, scallions, pole beans, and various herbs. I must be doing something right, as every container looks luscious.

By the way, I grow hot peppers for cooking in my chicken soup. Whatever is in the pepper has cured my bronchial asthma; I threw my inhalers away!

Yes, I planted a lot of garlic, but much of the crop will be given to neighbors in return for home-cooked meals and some town vendors. Finally my gardens are paying off!

You have acquired much gardening knowledge while growing up on that Michigan farm and continued into adulthood. I admire anyone who can successfully grow food; it is a lost skill in our society.

I will follow and recommend your blog in the future.