Winter Greens

We’re still growing food through the winter months here at Leafhopper Farm. The cloche is full of greens like mustard, radish, and spinach. Slugs have also found this delicious winter haven, and we’ll plan on putting some beer traps down to address this plant predation. The cloche gets watered about once a week, and stays covered most of the time. Next week sill be a real test for this bed, as the temperatures are dropping into the 20s for the first time this year. The cold will remain for several days, and it could freeze the bed, even with cloche cover.

The two cold frames are also thriving, and the one pictured above was never purposely planted, yet a crop of spinach has risen to the occasion, and looks great. I have not watered this cold frame at all, but the water still finds its way to the plants underground. Perhaps the roots are wicking water up from below? We also have a crop of spinach outside the cold frame, and I’ll be harvesting that before the cold snap hits next week. Otherwise, it will all die in the heavy frost.

My root veggies, like carrots, have also done well under cover. Soon we’ll need to pluck these yummy root crops from the soil, and it might be this weekend, before the ice lock comes. The winter this year has been mind, lulling the farm into a false sense of security. I almost put out cover crop seed two weeks ago, and am very glad now that I did not. When seed directions say wait till threat of last frost has passed, you should do just that. Seeds will be direct sewn after April 28th.

At the farm, we’re working to cultivate food year round, and that’s going to take more covered space. The greenhouse was utterly destroyed this winter by strong winds. Since it’s also about time to replace the plastic, we’ll rebuild the whole structure using metal framework to support long term survival against high wind, something that will continue and could get a lot worse in future.

Next week will also usher in a chance of snow. Though snow is rare in our area, it does usually happen a few times each year. The climate future projects more snow, and that means we’ll have to design strong cover to prevent collapse of our food shelters. Glass is ideal, and the cold frames are easy to set up and move as needed, but glass in general, unless scored from a fee pile, is expensive. It’s also a very heavy material, so making a whole building of it would be challenging and vulnerable to violent weather.

With a few more cold frames, and the planned design of a new greenhouse next summer, we’ll have plenty of room to grow food through the colder months, and hope to cultivate smart design in future so our investment in growing space can sustain its self through wind, snow, ice, and other natural chaos that is mother nature.

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