On greenhouse season extension

Rapidly heading cabbages, freshly sprouting shallots and root-cellar potatoes means it’s colcannon season.  With bacon bits and goat-milk yogurt, it’s a one-pot hearty meal…especially if paired with a salad.

The one thing I cannot stress enough for those of you considering these plastic bubbles is this:  Having one extends your growing season.  In my experience at zone 6, it extends it in two months in each direction.  Four more months of growing things!  Think about your haul if you had four more months in which to grow your goodies.

I grow things year-round in them, of course, like that pretty head of late September-seeded savoy cabbage above.  Through the months of December-February, though, the greenhouses act more like big produce refrigerators than places in which things are actively growing.  But it is at this time of the year, early March, that I have a particular appreciation of them.  You see, late February/early March here means there’s still snow on the ground outside…nary a thing outdoors is “growing,” though there are a few hardy things hiding out there under the snow.  Indoors, however, it might as well be late April/early May.

Everything in the greenhouse, in other words, has hit the Spring button.  Chives and scallions are leaping out of the ground…a great thing, as my chevre loves chives, long missed since their November die-back.  Seeds of the February-planted fava beans and peas are shooting up.  The garlic is 8-9″ tall.  The lettuces, long picked-at and just hanging in there, are now growing madly.  The cabbages are heading faster and faster.  And the arugula, mache (corn salad) and fall-planted kales are at the point of bolting.

Sure, it’s nice to sit in there too…especially if you consider the alternative:

Abandon all gardening hope, ye who enter here

11 responses to “On greenhouse season extension

  1. I really have to do a better job figuring out a hoop house for next winter. This year’s was hopeless.

  2. Two extra months in either direction?!? The mind boggles. There goes my winter slouch time. I may live to regret it, or I may not. But I guess I’ll find out soon. We’re putting up a tiny hoop house this year. Your chives are lovely. Can’t wait for ours!

  3. I wish I had the space for a true greenhouse. I keep thinking about a hoop house, but really enjoy my down time from the garden. Maybe someday.

  4. I’m thinking here it will be more like 2-3 months, but STILL!
    Every time I poke around in my low tunnels I think, next year I’ll be inside 🙂

  5. I had some hoops on my 4×4 beds for the first time in 2010. Just over the past weekend I picked carrots and spinach that I had planted in the fall. Zone 5, awesome!!

  6. Your cabbage is gorgeous! I bottled my dandelion wine last night and it is also gorgeous! Got eight bottles out of two batches. How is yours coming?

  7. El, I’ve got a lettuce question. I planted lettuce a while back and have been enjoying it until lately. My plants all bolted. How do you succession plant your lettuce? Do you sow seeds, or pull the plants and plant new ones or what? I am going to miss my lettuce, but I think I can still grow some more before it gets too hot here.


    • Jules! Succession plant. You’ll always have fresh (lettuce, beans, whatever) if you plant a tiny row every 2 weeks or so. That way it’s not an all-or-nothing crop. Lettuce, though, probably won’t last too much longer for you considering how warm it gets down there. But you should be able to grow it all winter. Hope that helps…

  8. Paula, didn’t yours collapse in snow or something? Well, I hope you guys figure out something that’ll work for you; they’re really wonderful.

    Ah Kate, but you see, I work up to spring madness just like everyone else does. The extra two months mean you just start thinking about outdoor stuff earlier. And gosh I feel like I need to asterisk the whole thing “your results may vary,” as the size of the hoop (height, width) and the land it covers all factor in to how well they work, and when. My mom’s stuff for example hasn’t hit the Spring thing yet. But I am quite excited you two have one planned for this year…you won’t be disappointed, and, well, you can slouch around in an 80* bubble!

    Mom, well, I wouldn’t knock you for downtime, but it IS fun, being able to get dirty all year round…if I choose to!

    Sara, indeed, you’re right, it might not be quite so long for you…but it will definitely be longer. Just not having to fight frozen ground to pull up carrots and parsnips in January makes them worthwhile, I think. Just plan for a chair in yours.

    Mary, wonderful! I think they’re great for carrots and cabbage, etc. Do you have plans for more? they get to be kind of addictive 🙂

    Liz! Hah, mine’s still sitting, chilling out. Need to probably get a move on: it’s almost time again for picking those first dandelions. Glad to hear yours looks wonderful…sipping soon then?

    CC, *your* Liz? What if I want to claim her?

    Jules, there are some bolt-resistant lettuces, like Anuenue, which is a heading one from Hawaii: http://www.localharvest.org/lettuce-seeds-anuenue-organic-C4030 give it a try. I grow it in the summer, works well.

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