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Planting in the Low Tunnel

March 2nd, 2016

This past Sunday we had a beautiful day, highs near fifty and sunny. Perfect for working in the garden, only the ground is still frozen. The soil in the low tunnel is thawed and workable, in fact the spinach in there is starting to grow new leaves. I have lettuce seedlings under the grow light that can be planted outside any day now, I’ve just been waiting for the weather to be above the single digits at night. I finally broke down and ordered a four pack of these probe thermometers, one will be put in the low tunnel so I can monitor the temperatures in there during the day and at night. I’ll use one under my grow lights too so I know the ambient temperature there as well.
planting in the low tunnel 1
planting in the low tunnel 2
I decided to take a few of each and plant in the low tunnel. We have a night that’s supposed to be 3 degrees, tomorrow evening – brrr. I decided it was worth planting a few seedlings out to see how they survive that kind of a night. That will give me a good idea of the weather inside the low tunnel. I’m thinking about giving them an additional layer of protection on that night, perhaps a milk jug or even another layer of frost blanket. I also seeded some arugula and cilantro in there.
planting in the low tunnel 3
I transplanted a few spinach seedlings as well, we’ll se how all this stuff does on that one frigid night. If it does well I’ll be filling the low tunnel with other lettuces and greens. We shouldn’t really have any more of those. Soon enough I’ll have enough garden chores to keep me busy on beautiful days, I can hardly wait!

What are you planting this week?

I Spy…

March 1st, 2016

On Sunday, I was checking the soil and spinach plants in the low tunnel and spotted a ‘Bowles Black’ violet blooming in there. What a wonderful sight it was!
black violet
I love having plants like Johnny’s jump ups and violets in my potager because they tell when I can do certain things. When I see them blooming I know that I can start planting and seeding spinach, arugula, cilantro, and other cold tolerant crops and they will germinate. The violets in the rest of the potager are nowhere to be seen, it will be a few weeks before they show their faces. Thanks to this beauty, I know it’s time to transplant some of the lettuce seedlings I have under grow lights into the low tunnel.

Do you have any plants that are signals for you?

Onions, Onions, Onions

February 25th, 2016

I love growing onions, of all colors, shapes, and sizes. I love starting my onions from seed. I love, love, love eating onions.
starting onion seeds 5
onion braids 1
Onion Harvest 2
onions (1)
planning for onions all year long 2
Each year I grow loads of onions, loads. Generally I harvest around 200 lbs of onions to eat throughout the year. That number doesn’t include green onions and leeks. We eat an AMAZING amount of onions. Many years ago, I decided to start growing them from seed myself, both because it saved me money and because you can find so many interesting varieties. In my experience, starting them from seeds makes them store longer. This past week I started 3 flats of onion seeds, I still have 3 more to get going this week. Onions are probably one of my most favorite crops to grow.

Do you grow onions? Have you started them from seed?

Welcome Volunteers

November 19th, 2015

Last summer I let overwintered carrots go to seed in the garden, the result was welcome volunteers here and there this spring. I left all the carrots seedlings that sprouted up here and there throughout the potager. Yesterday, I harvested a few of them to make soup.
Carrot harvest
There are a few things I allow to go to seed because I enjoy not having to plant them again. Cilantro, parsley, dill, kale, lettuce, and fennel are all things that sprout up here and there every spring. Sometimes I pull them up, most of the time I let them grow as they wish. The result is a lot of wonderful things that I didn’t have to plant myself.

What sorts of edible volunteers do you have in your garden?

Winter Spinach

November 3rd, 2015

I’m currently writing an article for Grit magazine about growing spinach. For the article, I’ve been growing a few different varieties and taking photos of them.
winter spinach 1
One of the things I love most about spinach is its winter hardiness. Not only will it withstand the cold nights of late fall and early spring, it’s actually better because of it.
winter spinach 2
Spinach is such a useful crop for those of us that live in the colder climates. They extend the season and allow us to harvest food from our gardens for a much longer season. It can be seeded fairly late in the fall and very early in spring, thus not taking up garden space during the prime growing season.

What are you harvesting from the garden right now?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.

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