Friday, December 11, 2009

Winter Garden Update

I promised y'all an update on the winter garden.  I am a woman of my word.

So far so good. Last night got down to 20, the night before the temp was 18. Everything in the little hoop houses is still growing. This morning I found a little green caterpillar in the lettuces. If that little guy can survive then the concept is working.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Spread the Word...Ambrose Farm needs your help!

This story is shocking to say the least. Here's the scenario...a wealthy former nascar driver builds himself a home in the country. Then he decides that the farm next door is just too noisy and too messy for his liking. The farm was there when he moved in. You can't miss it, it's that big green and brown thing next door. So he files a lawsuit to shut down the farm, which is a U-Pick/CSA local food producer that's been in operation 35 years.

If you are a locavore, a foodie, or you just like to eat, please spread the word on this outrage. If Irvin wins all the farms in this area will have to cease operations. Presumably so more wealthy people can build McMansions where the U-Pick used to be.

You can see I'm upset so I apologize if my words are too harsh. Here's the Facebook group that's been formed to muster support.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Winter Garden? AKA Itching To Plant

Winter has finally arrived here in my little goober town. There was a heavy frost last night and lows in the 20s are expected through the next 3 days.
Winter is always a hard time for me. I have little extended family left. My mother, my grandmother, my only aunt and all my great aunts and uncles are gone now so the family rituals are hard to maintain with just the kid and me. Winter is also the time when I don't get to play in the dirt.
Maybe staying indoors deprives me of Vitamin D from the sun but I hate being cooped up in the house. I search the web for more seed suppliers, researching veggie varieties I have not grown yet. I make little scale drawings of the garden space trying to figure how many more raised beds I can fit before I run into the neighbor's fence (do you thing he'd let me plant stuff in his yard too?). 
These beds have been awesome. So far they've been completely free of Bermuda grass. Very few weed seeds have made it into the raised beds and I keep the stuff that doesn't need polinating covered to keep the bugs off.   I built these beds early last Spring.  Here's how. You'll need 8 cedar 1 X 12s for every three beds, one cedar 2 X 4, landscape cloth and rust proof screws. Leave 6 wide boards full length, cut the last 2 wide boards and the 2 X 4 into 30" pieces.  Dig out a hole 31" X 8'2" and 3" deep. This step really is worth the effort. Line the hole with landscape cloth, extending the cloth at least a foot beyond each end. Screw two full length 1 X 12s and two 30" 1 X 12s to make a rectangle like in the photo. Place one 2 X 4 in the center as a brace and securely screw to the frame. Lower the frame into the hole you dug and backfill around the outside edges. Fill with garden soil, humus, compost, whatever combination you like to use as a growing medium.
The hoop covers are made from black plastic irrigation pipe. I cut 6 to 7' lengths and just pushed the ends into the soil. I tied the intersection with twine for stability. This one here is covered in cheesecloth 'cause I live in the boonies and couldn't get any tulle. But polyester bridal tulle makes a great row cover. It keeps the bugs from munching on your tasty plants and eliminates the need for pesticides.

That's all well and good but what about WINTER? Here's my experiment...cover those same hoops in plastic and grow cool weather veggies. It's still at the experiment stage but here's what the same bed looks like today.

Those lettuces look pretty darned happy. The plastic also keeps them from being injured by the dry winter wind. If they survive the next few days of cold nights I'll be able to declare a success. I'll report back to let y'all know how it goes.