Yet another greenhouse rave

Okay, really now. I try to keep away from the recipe-and-food-picture circuit because I kind of find food blogs (with a couple of exceptions) braggard-y and full of puff. It’s one of the reasons I shied away from One Local Summer this year, too; I just was not comfortable with the format, for this blog, anyway; as a tipping point toward local eating, it’s really a great way to go.

But (but!) I must tell you about this harvest last night. Without the greenhouse*, all you would see would be the onions and the asparagus and some leaf lettuce. The head lettuce I seeded outside last August, and extended the season of that bed by simply laying a piece of leftover greenhouse plastic on top of the plants, held down by rocks. (Yep: call it the poor girl’s greenhouse, but obviously it worked, and it worked through a winter when none of my normal outdoor plants (kales, leeks) survived.) The broccoli I blathered about in the previous post.

And the garlic?

It’s from some very unpromising sprouty cloves I stuck into the greenhouse toward the end of January.

This is Michigan, people. Mih-chih-gaaan, where it’s cold and snowy half the year. Hopefully, this will be a bit more of a tipping point for some of you out there to get yourselves a greenhouse/hoophouse/polytunnel this season. It’s not too late!ย  I’m not showing you what I can grow.ย  I am showing you what you can, even with surprisingly unpromising garlic.

*Greenhouse-y, if I include the lazy season extension of the plastic on top of the lettuce bed.

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17 responses to “Yet another greenhouse rave

  1. I have a question about garlic. I planted it for the first time this year and I have no idea when to harvest. They went in early with the potatoes and the leaves are just starting to brown at the tops but they make me think of flower bulbs and maybe I’m supposed to wait until the leaves are all brown? Short of digging one up and having a look I’m not sure how long to wait.

  2. Hey Alecto: Typically in CT and MI you would plant garlic in the fall for bigger heads. They need a chilling period to get going. Do you know if it is a hardneck or softneck garlic? Does it have a scape (flower)…if it does it’s a hardneck. The rule for them is if the bottom half of leaves have yellowed, then it’s time to harvest. Pretty sketch info; sorry. It helps to count the leaves. If it has 9-10, if it has a hardneck it has not produced the scape yet…the scape shows up at leaf 9, and should be harvested to give its energy to the bulb. That’s a good thing because the scapes are great on their own. So: if you planted them with your peas, I would guess they won’t be ready until the end of July, but you might be seeing scapes soon. (I was so excited about the garlic because this took so short a period of time, and these bulbs were huge. I don’t expect to harvest my October planted stuff until July.)

  3. You are so right about the qualities that can come out of the food blog. My blog is floundering around after going through a serious knitting stage (which has exactly the same problems) and then a food-and-gardening stage. Your ideas come across at just the right moment. Thanks.

  4. Hope that I don’t come across that way? Let me know if you do. Glad to hear that you were able to grow things under simple plastic as I’m hoping to do the same poor man’s cloche this winter to keep us in greens.

  5. oh, come on…no hypersensitivity allowed around here. I agree with El about the food blogs. I read a lot of them and always end up feeling like I come up way short. But then I don’t spend much time worrying about it; mostly because if I did have the time to worry about it I’d much more likely be trying to recreate some of the wonderful, delicious, incredible looking things that I look at the pictures of.

    I just take a big deep breath and figure that when I retire then maybe I will have the time required to produce some of the awesome looking things I can only look at now when I am bone tired and it is just before bed and we have been fed (maybe not beautifully presented but it’s healthy and home grown, by golly) and I know I have to get up in a very few hours to go to the job that pays the bills.

    ‘nuf of that. Can’t imagine El meant any offense at all. Not even unintentionally. She doesn’t seem like that kind of a person.

    And by the way El, (sorry to be talking about you in the last paragraph like you weren’t even here) one thing I do like about your blog is that you answer people and interact. Some bloggers just seem to post and maybe they do read the responses but can’t seem to be bothered to take the time to respond to inquiries. One of my all time favorites is guilty of that and it drives me nuts. She has a great blog, I love her subject matter, her style, her humor, everything about the blog except I have only seen her answer a question a handful of times in the two or three years I’ve been reading. Just leaves you hanging but you don’t do that so a big pat on the back to you for that.

    Update on the kid? Hoping all is well and recovery is complete.

    More kudos to you with the chicken relocation. I’ve only ever had the yard bird girls for eggs. If push came to shove I suppose I could but they’d have to sit in the freezer long enough for me to forget. I appreciate your posting the particulars. Even if I never do, but more especially if I ever have to, I now have some idea of what to expect.

    Didn’t mean to go on and on….finally your greenhouse. I have to do this. I ordered Elliott Coleman’s book and I am going to have a fall and winter garden this year. Tipping point? good lord, girl, you had me a long time ago. I just need to get my timing figured out for this more southerly area. We do have cold, frost and even some ice and snow but not nearly like you. Just enough that things can’t sit out in the garden bareheaded and be expected to make it through.

    Plans for the greenhouse(s) are being finalized even as I type.

  6. Sorry wasn’t trying to be hypersensitive, just a bit… Totally agree. There are food and garden writers out there that are my idols – I will never measure up in terms of food presentation or sophistication or photography. I just do what I do.

    And I’m massively jealous of El’s greenhouse – but that means she should write more about it not less! That way I’ll just “have to have” one of my own!

  7. I just picked my first garlic of the year yesterday (here in used-to-be-Zone-7-but-is-now-Zone-8). Also, I used plastic sheeting over one of my beds and had a winter garden, no problem (okay, we’re talking three weeks of January, but I kept those lettuces going!) In our current 100-degree, drought-tridden heat now, I’m dreaming of that winter garden again already.

  8. I just found your blog and so far I love it. I am excited to learn from you. Winter gardening is something we are wanting to learn to do. We built a cold frame this year, so we are starting in a small way.

    I’m looking forward to reading more of your blog!

  9. TPL: I know what you mean about knitting blogs. More power to them, but really, can I just reveal how oxymoronic the next statement is: competitive knitting. I think blogs should be about what blows your skirt up, though, otherwise, why would we bother to read them? I try to at least tangentially bring back whatever is exercising me to gardening. Keeps the blog focused, anyway.

    Laura, no. You don’t. You have my utmost admiration for getting the Dark Days Challenge going: it is more of a challenge than getting some local hamburger and slapping it on the grill like nearly every post is on One Local Summer, IMHO. But the one thing you have said is how these challenges have changed your household’s relationship to food, and that you (most importantly) have been humbled by the process.

    Thanks, K, you seriously made my day. Dog knows I don’t blog to get the pats on the back (as I really am not that kind of person) but every once in a while a good old Attagirl really does hit the spot. But thank you on the inquiries on the kid, too: she seems to have made a full recovery, according to the ENT doc yesterday. Poor baby. I do hope you do get a greenhouse, and let me know about it. The thing you can count on is it will warm up your area 1.5 hardiness zones. So my zone 6B goes to an 8A: still frost, but not nearly as much as what’s outside the plastic. I’d recommend things that love it hot, like artichokes (which are perennial and can get to 8′ tall) and of course peppers and tomatoes in the summer, and of course all the lovely salad stuff in the winter. (And oh yeah, I often think of myself in the third person!)

    Laura (again!)…will do on the greenhouse posts. There are some interesting things that happen in the thing during the really hot months, so I should make note of that (officially, that is).

    Pattie, Tom and I are such massive heat wimps that the furthest south we could contemplate living would be the Michigan state line…and wouldn’t you know, that line is 40 miles south of us ๐Ÿ˜‰ so I hear you on your horrible (heat and) drought these last three years for you. Of course for many people your drought is a tipping point on its very own. At least it’s brought up how important water management is, both on the household and the municipal level. But yes, you certainly could grow all kinds of things down there which I could only imagine! Have you considered, say, the citrus family? But boo hoo I am about 1 month from a massive garlic harvest. I do, however, harvest green garlic…yum…and now scapes…and those bulbs made a great aioli.

    Jessica! Welcome. I am always so happy to get to know more people out there who’re interested in doing what we’re doing. When I started this blog (eeks almost 2 years ago) I felt very alone, I tell you! What’s great is we can all learn from each other…and believe me, people aren’t shy about telling me when I did something stupid ๐Ÿ˜‰

  10. Well I am being hypersensitive! I write about food for a living! I realize that some of my local food recipes are a bit… ummm…trying (like the ravioli thing I did during the blogathon) I do try not to sound condecending when I write about food, and I make an attempt not to write about foods that you wouldn’t find on a busy woman’s dinner table. Please tell me if I do sound that way. I am not fond of food elistists.

    On to other things, because I am really not offended. Your homegrown looks great! I am always impressed with your gardening skills. I have garlic seed in the ground around my peach tree, we wil see if anything comes of that. Winter gardeing isn’t something we have attempted yet, though we have plans for this year.

  11. Phelan, I would come sit at your table any day. I guess what I sometimes find offensive in food blogs is the ongoing tedium of what went into the thing, and of course the food-porn photo. I know food stylists, and they say you’d never eat the stuff they style, so…. And it does not surprise me in the LEAST that the two of you will try your hands at winter gardening. I really do try to never go to the grocery store, and am pretty successful. Ours are admittedly lots closer to us than yours are to you, so you even have incentive!

  12. El: You are so right on the tipping point. Behavior change is finally, finally, finally starting to happen here, between the food prices, the gas prices and the drought. Good will come of it.

  13. There is one food program I can’t watch because as the woman is cooking, 1970 soft porn music seems to be playing. Ugh! One thing about the people I write for, the food we pictue is the actual meal, none of the fake stuff to make it look better. So, yes I know what you are talking about.

    And you are welcome to my table anytime, as long as you come prepared for a little physical labor first ๐Ÿ˜‰

  14. Pingback: Practical Nourishment

  15. Do you mind if I ask what about the format of One Local Summer you don’t love? Maybe it’s something we could take into consideration for next year – I’m new at organizing the whole thing, so ideas on how to improve would be great! Thanks!

  16. Nicole, there’s nothing wrong with the format. Local eating is just the way we eat here. It was a two-year process of transition, but we produce 90% of our own food. For me, the later period of OLS was me going a little nutty making some wild food: I felt like I was bragging, and was uncomfortable doing it, because everything was my sweat. It’s not you it’s me!

  17. Heh! I understand completely. Sometimes challenges do that to people. One of the Farm to Philly writers who is participating this went through that last year, too – her resolution this year is to keep it simple. She’s trying to stick to meals that have less than five or six ingredients.

    In defense of the complicated meal, I do really love to see what interesting things people can do using seasonal food! *grin*

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