On cold

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Wow, did we miss these

Well! I can honestly report that one cannot pluck one’s greenhouse veggies all year long (as I had hoped). Sometimes a deep freeze messes with your plans.

It’s been cold here; it’s been cold most places in the northern/eastern portions of this country. It got down to -3* one night last week; really flipping cold, in other words. Good news in the greenhouse: the lowest air temperature in there was 18*. Which means the lowest it was in the beds themselves was probably 25*…cold enough to freeze the water within your cell walls if you were a resident plant. And so, I didn’t do any plucking or picking for a week (with the exception of the parsley; can’t cook without it); I let things hibernate.

Instead, I had a very Scarlett O’Hara moment on Tuesday when I brought my sharpest produce knife into the outside gardens and sawed the frozen heads off of two collards. I was ACHING for greens, deep-freeze or no. They weren’t bad, very mild, and it fixed my need for leaves. But it underscored for me that the new greenhouse must be fully planted with the kale and collard crops that we need to accompany our bean-y winter fare.

Of course, our cold and snow never hang around long here. Today’s highs will be around 45*, low 35*, so it will be sloppy soon with all that melting snow. Yesterday, though, was nice and sunny so we finally got a great, big, welcome salad out of the greenhouse. Sigh!

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5 responses to “On cold

  1. I’ve been digging the posted updates in the greenhouse this winter. Meg and I have been researching greenhouses of all types and your posts have been a nice sneak peak at the many benefits they offer.

    An item we’ve been mulling over is potentially having a heat source in our future greenhouse; we suspect it would really maximize our growing capabilities in the winter. Now as far as we can tell, you don’t have a source of heat, but you are none the less doing quite well. Do you feel the benefits of maybe even a passive solar heater would improve the veggie output enough to warrant its construction?

    (I apologize for the formal tone, I can’t seem to shake it. I’ve been surrounded by academic types all day.)

  2. Kelly, I noticed no formal tone.

    Yay! The reason I am posting these updates is to get people interested in doing this exact same thing.

    I would say, like chickens, it is not the cold that bugs the plants, it is the lack of light during these cold days. I really doubt what I am growing would benefit much with supplemental heat. Supplemental light, though, and I bet we would be in business…but I am not going to do either, frankly.

    What really stunk about this last week is it was mostly cloudy, too. The one day I went out and took pictures of the snow on the greenhouse? The sun had just come out so I needed to hurry and get the snow off the plastic! Just the tiniest bit of sun really heats things up in there. I am usually tempted to pull the Reemay off the beds so they get absolute light on their leaves…but I don’t, knowing I might not be able to get back in there the moment it goes away again (and thus chills them).

    So I’m really happy you guys are out there soaking this info. up!

  3. Wow, am I glad to find your blog! I’ve been living in SF for the past 30 years, and in 2009 I move back ‘home’ to SW Mi. I eat local, and hope to manage an Elliot Coleman style 4 season garden – but I was really wondering how well I could stay on track with local, healthy food.

    Now I get to follow your blog and get ideas!

    (btw, I’ve been surprised to discover the same thing you did: despite eating all organic, with meat all pastured – my food bills have gone down. It’s the combination and the elimination of processed foods, I guess. I don’t have a garden right now, but I do buy veggies/fruit only from the farmers market.)

  4. Well, welcome home, Hayden! In advance! How exciting. I love SF but you will be in for a huge culture shock moving back here: mostly, people really are not nearly as wealthy as they are elsewhere. Too much of that lost-industrial-jobs thing, but you probably knew that already. Keep in touch and let me know where you land. I will hook you up as part of our buyers’ club with our local-ish co-op in Grand Rapids. Great access to that great pastured meat. I’ll also try to give you a head’s up about CSAs and other decent farmers’ markets and other suppliers around here: they are definitely hard to find. Silly.

    But yes, the greenhouse is a fabulous addition to our lives. I have the most monstrously huge salad planned for dinner, along with a local organic roasted hen and spuds and broccoli from the storage downstairs. (It can be done.)

  5. Yeh, I know things are bad in MI. I have a niece and nephew there. I have property in Cheshire Township, so that’s where I’ll be. Thanks much for the offer for contacts/directions/buyers clubs! I’m really gonna’ be a fish out of water for awhile. I did check through EatWild and found grass-finished Highland Cows and pastured eggs within about 20 miles, so I found that comforting.

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