On changing seasons

Every year I go through incredible seasonal denial when the earth tips away from the sun.  I need actual physical events like the first threat of frost to jolt me back to reality.  Frost!  Crap! In the first week of October?

Chilly broccoli

So yes, frost.  Brr. I guess it’s no longer summer.

Patchy frost too.  “Killing frost” as many Floridians know is a magical number: anything below 28* for something like 4 hours of time will severely damage tender vegetation, citrus trees, etc.  But “patchy frost” here means there’s frost in the lowest-lying areas only, and perhaps the thermometer didn’t dip down quite so much as to outright kill all vegetables still standing out in MY garden.

All buttoned up.  I wonder if those tomatoes on the bench will ever ripen…

I thought ahead, though.  This weekend I put the plastic back up on the end walls of the greenhouse.  People of Southwest Michigan should thank me:  my precaution all but guarantees we’ll have a scorcher of an Indian summer.

But inside the house this weekend?  Spring!

GO SEE THIS VIDEO: http://player.vimeo.com/video/15532431

The school’s egg incubator came home with us on Friday.  (I kind of insisted:  they were due to hatch today (Monday) and I…had a feeling they’d hatch before then.)  We excitedly heard the peeppeeppeep from the first eggs Saturday night, and I was up helping the first one hatch at 3:30 a.m.  Another followed on Sunday night.  They’re back at school now, with more eggs hatching.  The house is almost too quiet now.

Nomnomnom

If that’s not adorable enough, we also have baby bunnies.  That says “spring” to me too.

Five, or make that six, or even seven, funny bunnies

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15 responses to “On changing seasons

  1. i love the bunny pics! i cannot believe how cool it has suddenly gotten. i’ve got firewood on the brain. your place looks great. hope all is well.

  2. Why does Paulie Shore have so many bunnies on him? :)

  3. That’s a lot of bunnies. I loved the video and can’t believe you already got frosted. Is the frost normal or early this year?

  4. Adorable pics. Way to ward off the season!

    We had three cold nights, including a last-minute freeze advisory Monday morning from the NWS, but it looks like our little micro-climate yard came through okay. I think our average frost date is about the 8th, so we’re about on schedule, and I think I’m *almost* ready. Bring on the Indian summer though!

  5. I have the “Crap – It’s already October?” blues. In August, when it was 95° and unrelenting, I sure didn’t want to plant my winter garden. September/October are our busiest months regarding sailing and things just get put off to run regattas. Now, crap, it’s October and I’ve got nothing planted. I need to get out and dig the winter garden up and get at least SOMETHING planted. I love greens too much!

  6. “This weekend I put the plastic back up on the end walls of the greenhouse” Do you drape this over the outside of the door ends? Is that what that pipe sticking out the end is for?

    I try and extend my season as much as I can, but there is no way to keep things alive through winter here in southwest Montana, unless you have a heated greenhouse. The temps are just too low here.

  7. I’m sorry. Duh. I totally read this wrong. Forget the question about the plastic on the ends. Thanks.

    Would love advice on the layout of beds in the greenhouse and how you keep the paths weed-free.

    I hope to use my greenhouse mostly for tomatoes, as I have lots growing in beds outside.

    • Hi Elizabeth!! So excited about your new greenhouse prospects. These are all good questions: there are no dumb ones, believe me.

      I do like my bed layout as I am able to manage different crops. It is not of course the most efficient layout; you can actually maximize your space if you put in, say, just four (or even 3) long beds running the whole length. I like raised beds too mainly because our soil is so clay: you can easily add/mix new stuff between crops and this helps the soil lighten up. You certainly don’t need raised beds and you don’t need to do it the way I have done it. It works for me and my conditions.

      Weeds in the paths are really not a problem. I had put down cardboard first then woodchips. The cardboard has melted away but the chips are still there, 3 years on. Any weeds are easily seen and pulled out. Wish that were the case outdoors too…

      I have one roll-up side on each greenhouse. In the summer I pull the plastic off the door area (it’s a 6′ wide area) on each end of the freestanding greenhouse. The smaller greenhouse has one door and is backed into an outbuilding: it is always hotter in there. I gauge my crops accordingly. So now in this in-between season, I am rolling up the sides and opening the doors every day and rolling/closing at night. The plastic currently is placed on the door area with one big vent at the top: it’s still hot here and I don’t want the lettuces to grow too quickly. Once the frost comes to stay I will completely close the greenhouse in and only open the door if I need to cool the place off. It helps that we work from home!

      You might not need to heat your greenhouse. The sun does a pretty spectacular job of warming things up. And I have a feeling your area is probably sunnier than our cloudy place next to the lake! Just make sure you read all of Eliot Coleman’s books on greenhouse growing: he’s immensely helpful and you’ll soon see the winter plants are less picky about heat than you thought.

      Any other questions, you can email me!

  8. Thank you!
    I like raised beds too. My husband thought the best bed layout would be similar to yours, but I think beds running the whole length would be more efficient, like you said. I am just happy to have a greenhouse and get it ready for Spring, but would like a workable and efficient layout.

    I have Eliot Coleman’s latest book. I use hoops and row cover on my outside beds and leave it on all season, day and night. Works great! I’ll try covering the beds inside the greenhouse and see how long I can keep some crops alive, but I don’t think it will be much past the end of November. I guess I’ll find out. This really is the coldest part of Montana and I think the low’s are below what Maine and Michigan have. You are right about the sun though. We don’t have many overcast days here!

    I guess weeds in the paths aren’t a problem since water isn’t getting on them much. I have grass on the floor of the greenhouse right now, so I’ll have to do something for paths I think. Don’t want to have to weedeat in there. I’m totally new to greenhouses, so just not sure how it works. Maybe I’ll try your cardboard and wood chips method.
    Thanks El!

  9. You and I started our dandelion wine at about the same time, so I wonder if yours has “fallen clear” yet? Mine has not and I’m anxious to bottle it. For my two batches I used two different recipes from the numerous Jack Keller recipes on-line that you also got yours from. I’m excited to try them next spring as they both look and smell very different from each other. (one with raisins and one with Welchs white grape juice).

  10. We dodged a frost bullet the other night, and it’s warmed up a bit. I’ve brought in the tender herbs and now it’s time to hoop a few beds so I don’t have to run around like an idiot next time it’s going to get cold. There’s a spot against an outbuilding that’s perfect for a greenhouse; it all comes down to time and money and the lack of both.

  11. Molly, your place looks good too! Must be so exciting to have another building…you’re certainly not afraid of construction! I wish we had a woodstove…it’s wool sock season so they go well together. Warmth and hot lap dogs to you.

    JCC, Tom said, “can’t you block that guy?” Truth hurts I guess…

    Mike, nope, frost usually hits around Halloween. But the first year we moved here we got snow on the 15th, then the next year we had a foot of snow the 21st. Who knows what normal is, I guess!

    Sara, I’m now wondering if Indian Summer has come and gone, this weekend was glorious. Sigh. Still not “done” with things though. I guess that’s the way? Hope you finish up at least mentally with your pre-frost garden.

    Jules, geddonit girl! I know what you mean though. Sometimes you just need to MAKE time to make things happen. I need to of course live by my own admonitions. But sailing is at least a worthwhile way to spend money I mean time!

    Elizabeth, the one tip I have for you about greenhouse plants is the smaller they are the closest to the super-cold weather, the better they’ll survive. Certain things really aren’t bothered by the cold, too, like arugula and mache and some non-heading lettuces. Tougher kales and collards get by outside here and do really well in the greenhouses. And carrots, beets and turnips grow all winter in there: easier to harvest (the ground isn’t rock-solid) and it eliminates my need to root-cellar them (where they get dried out and weeny in little time). Anyway, I think you’ll find it quite fun!

    Liz, thanks for the reminder: those bottles are just sitting there, doing their thing; they looked like they were clearing up a month ago and I thought “I really need to buy a corker,” which of course I have not done yet! Eeps time to get busy. I will post about it though…

    Peter, you mention the ultimate life conundrum. Perhaps you can simply prep beds with an eye to a future enclosure. And frankly *I* think these plastic bubbles are gorgeous, mainly because their utility and their simplicity are so intertwined. You can’t improve on them, really. That said, I am quite sure you’ll be making something all Bucky Fuller-ish and zoomy.

  12. Ah, well, with Sailboats, there really is no output of money unless you count the monthly dockage. We have no motor, so the yearly upkeep is minimal.

  13. ah. now i know who’s responsible for this Indian Summer! thanks! i wasn’t ready to give up summer yet! :D

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