Bed #4 of 12 in the new greenhouse: I thought I would show it to you because it’s a typical mixed bed of veggies and salad stuff. Cover on, cover off. The monster plant is an Early Purple Sprouting broccoli: supposedly, these are winter-hardy (but never have been for me) and produce small purple shoots during their second spring. Considering the crappy seeds I got from this company, I kind of doubt I will ever see a bit of broccoli from it, so I am treating it like kale.
As you can see, this 6’x3′ bed is pretty tightly planted. There’s no real stress inside the greenhouse, you see, so you can plant pretty thickly if your soil is decent. There are 13 rows in this bed with the bottom three being Swiss chard and sorrel, and most of the rest are lettuces. The lettuces are typically planted at 7-8 plants per row…my calculations then are that there are about 70-80 lettuces in here. All the lettuces are from the transfer bed, and the transfer bed was seeded mid-August. I transplanted the babies into this bed around the middle of September. They’ve tripled in size since then.
While showing you the typical size of the lettuce plants, I thought I would show you my favorite: Amish Deer Tongue. It’s kind of a romaine but kind of a buttercrunch too. These are from seed I have saved. It will get bigger but not by much.
Left: slug damage on Brune d’hiver Right: frost damage on Grand Rapids (the darker area)
And while I am at it I thought I would show you a couple of problems you can expect. Neither one of these things is a dealbreaker, if you ask me: the slugs die once it stays cold, and the plants do toughen up after it stays chilly.
So, before you really start scratching your heads, not EVERY bed is planted with 80 lettuces. Only 8 out of 12! Yep, that’s a heap of salad fixings. I give a lot away, we certainly eat our share, and the turkeys and geese eat quite a bit themselves. Other things growing out there: a bed of carrots, a bed of leeks, a bed of broccoli and kale, a bed of garlic. Various herbs like parsley and thyme and chives are scattered throughout. The old greenhouse is mostly planted with lettuce seeds, garlic, and multiplier onions. These lettuces above will be spent by March, and the seeds in the old greenhouse will then be ready to be eaten.
I really enjoy eating fresh stuff year-round: home-canned stuff is great, but there’s something wonderful about walking outside in January and harvesting dinner. These greenhouses have been great investments. A friend told me that, at $5 a bag of organic salad, these babies will pay for themselves in no time! Considering I have only been a greenhouse farmer for a year and a month, let’s see…I would have needed to sell about 380 bags (or come up with your own calculus if you consider the peppers and tomatoes, leeks and non-salad veggies). I know I have easily recouped my investment!