Thankfully, gratefully, I report a gentle fall to round out the growing year of 2009. Though our weather this growing season wasn’t as calamitous as many experienced it, it was an unusual year, definitely on the cool side.
Many people don’t realize it, but late spring and late fall are times of moderation, as far as temperatures go: the swing on our thermometer only changes 20* or so between daytime highs/nighttime lows. Inside the greenhouse, things are more moderate, too, with a 40* swing found on a sunny day, 20-30* on a cloudy one. The temperatures slowly drop, but the highs drop too, so now we’re still seeing that swing but it’s happening between cold and colder, not cool and cooler.
This hasn’t always been the case. Often, November hits us with a bang, and we’ve even been known to have snow accumulation in mid-October. Finally, in late November, it got cold. And I got the Reemay out.
Reemay fabric covers, which stay on until mid-Feb. for warmth. I always think of Madeline when I see these little beds (there are 12 in the new greenhouse, in two straight lines…
Lettuces fairly well packed into a bed: notice how they’re not full sized. I transfered them in as tiny plants in late October. They’ll grow very slowly throughout the winter, but I’ve made sure there’s enough growth to 1. have a decent harvest and 2. keep the lettuces smaller to avoid too much frost damage
I invested a mere $20 for 1/2″ PVC sun-resistant conduit to use as the Reemay supports this year. #9 wire (9/16″ diameter) is recommended: it’s easily bent, can be stuck in the ground with ease, and the rowcover fabric can easily be clipped to stay in place with clothespins. But I couldn’t find it at a price I was willing to pay, so the conduit will do just fine…plus, I can reuse it on outdoor beds if I ever do find cheap wire. Fastening the fabric to the hoops helps the fabric from bellying downward under the weight of frozen condensation. In the greenhouse, see, there’s no chance of wind blowing the fabric off, but the fabric does get damp. It can therefore freeze to your lettuces, poor babies. But: bow it will. And as long as you aren’t expecting salad for breakfast, that’s fine.
This second covering of the veggies adds another 10* or so of temperature moderation. If the outdoor air hits 30*, the indoor air will be 40*, but below the rowcovers, it might stay at 50* overnight. A string of cloudy days will drop everyone’s temperature, yet it will still be warmer under the covers.
Winter’s here, though. Daytime sunny highs hit 80* in the greenhouses while it’s 35* outside; nighttime lows in the low 20s outdoors…but not even 30* in. I’ll take it!