Archive for the ‘Four-Season Harvesting’ Category

The greenhouse is up and functional. Here’s a pictorial description of the process:
The structure with the deer (squirrel) netting still up and row covers on.

A big hunk of greenhouse plastic, donated generously by my horticulturist friend Gwen.

To get the plastic over the ribs, first put a rock on one side…

Then attach a cord around the rock and pull the cord from the far side.

The plastic is up and my 1-meter tall child stands in as a height reference.

At the bottom, roll lath into the plastic and nail down.

The plastic ,after being secured on all sides.

A crisscross of guy rope goes over the top and through screw eyes at the bottom, to help keep the plastic on where it should be and to make the structure a little more stable.

The inside view of the greenhouse after the plastic is on.

I am happy to report that the greenhouse survived the 40-50+ mph winds that arose the following days, without a bit of damage. The ribs are independently flexible and the plastic is tough, so while the shape of the arch was…altered…at times, no problems arose and the plants didn’t even notice the storm.
Here’s to some later fall/winter produce!

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Temperatures are dropping around Chicago, and this is normally the time when I’d been doing a fall clean-up, some final mulching, and putting my garden to bed for the winter.

But not this year!

This is the winter of Eliot Coleman, when Melissa and I are going to try our hand at Fall gardening aiming for a winter harvest. Here’s where we are as of the start of October:

Planted right now (clockwise from bottom left) are Romaine and Buttercrunch lettuce, endive, yellow globe onions, bunching onions, full-grown endive, carrots in various stages from seedling to mature, tomato plants up against the house (1 box wrapped, 1 unwrapped to see the difference), mache, more lettuce, spinach, and a fallow place for garlic that’s just outside the picture in the lower right.

As you can see, I have row covers in place. These let in about 80% of the light and are water-permeable. They have the added benefits of keeping out insects and providing some cover from the wind. I will say that they make my seedlings look beautiful:

Another new experiment for this Fall is the mache bed. These hardy little salad greens can germinate at 35 degrees and can bounce back from -5 if necessary. The adult plants are only about 4 inches across, so it takes a lot of plants for a salad. So, I’ve planted about 1200 plants in my bed and they’re just starting to pop up:

They’re a little hard to see in this picture, but they’re there.

One of the successes this summer season has been the raspberries. All of the canes in this picture started as tiny 4″-6″ transplant cuttings that came from my 5-year old bush on the side of the dog run.

As you can see, they did very well, despite having the fence in front of them completely overwhelmed by cantaloupe vines for much of the summer. Maybe they decided to grow tall to compensate.

I have noticed that the Fall temps do slow down germination and growth, so I’ll keep you apprised of our progress every so often. Check back for more later, especially when we install the plastic on our greenhouse…

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http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=horto-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=1890132276&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrFor my birthday this week, my family gave me a couple of books, including Four Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman. The basic premise of the book is that Coleman, a gardener who lives in Maine, grows a kitchen garden and harvests food throughout the year, even during the winter months–and he does it without an expensive, artificially-heated greenhouse! His success is due to a simple formula: plant cold-resistant vegetables, such as spinach, carrots, kale, and mache, and protect them by using simple technologies like a plastic-sheeted hoophouse and the time-honored cold frame. Coleman points out that he is not trying to grow plants during the winter, only to have them available to harvest. Think of it like a large-scale crisper drawer from your refrigerator!

The book has starting Melissa and I seriously thinking about covering our main garden plot with a “convertible” greenhouse. During the warm months, it would be covered with deer netting to keep out squirrels, dogs, rabbits, etc., and as fall and winter approach would be clad with clear plastic sheeting and stocked with cold frames inside to preserve the fall-planted crops for harvesting throughout the year. The price is far less than you might think (the PVC materials to make the ribs of the structure will cost less than $40 total!), and it seems simple to put together.

Stay tuned for more greenhouse information to follow, and hopefully more four-season harvesting, too!

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