Hoopdate, January 2012

I fear the unusual weather is not making my first winter with the hoop as much of a learning experience.  We are starting to have the normal bright and sunny January days, but instead of subzero temps we have record highs in the 50s!  Still, my low temp this week was 8.6 degrees (finally got a min/max thermometer!).  But, as I've said before, it's good to have a successful beginning year at whatever you try in the garden, so as to be more inspired in the future--and to remind you when you do have failures that good things are possible.

a mix of greens, looking perfectly content to grow (slowly) mid-winter

In contrast, parsley, looking sad, but still useable, the centers are perking up a bit.

There's not a ton of harvest-able main-course stuff in here, there's plenty of herbs, but only enough spinach or salad greens for using once a week or so.  We have quite a few leeks left (I'm hoarding a bit) and a few more carrots.  It's a small space:  optimizing it is something I'll learn eventually.  But I also know in another 6 weeks I'll be rolling in greens that we can't eat fast enough, even with the small patches I have.  So it's all good. There's plenty of stuff in the pantry to use up, even though I seem more inclined to eat a handful of fresh kale in a dish than dig out an entire bag of frozen goodies.  I can totally see how having a winter garden can adjust your preserving habits, even when you just have a small space like mine.

lacinto kale, started a bit late and still a baby

And once again, a reminder that winter gardening need not require special equipment at all:  Kale and broccoli made it through that single-digit night just fine on their own, and seem to be making new leaves and florets.  It's kind of nice to have a control group:

What winter gardening teaches me is that pushing the growing season past the first and last frost dates is way more than cold frames and structures.  I'm growing (and eating) different foods altogether now, and everything I learn tweaks what "seasonal" means to me.  As for the hoop, it definitely has it's benefits--harvesting on a sleety day--much better, even if the kale is the same size inside.  There will definitely be a boost in early planting and growth due to the bonus heat (and more imporantly) the drier conditions that will aid in early planting.  And the smell of earth and sunshine trapped inside in January?  Heavenly. 

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  1. My first seasons with greenhouse one and two were not super-encouraging, so I'm glad your first winter is treating you right! Those leeks look heavenly. And you are quite right to mention how having what's basically an outdoor refrigerator stocked with greens changes your preservation habits. For me, thankfully, it's freed up a lot more time in the summer to just chill and attack the tomatoes.
    I think you'll discover lots of new veg to try in the greenhouse, too; self-seeding things like mache and cold-loving things like both types of arugula can, frankly, be planted now...with the return of lots more sun in Feb you'll be surprised by how things up and take off. And cut back that parsley so it's forced to put out new leaves...and allow it to go to seed this spring/summer, too; parsley is also a perennial in my greenhouse because of this. Likewise kale; I have one plant that is now 3 years old...it's a Russian kale, reddish; thousands of side shoots and it goes to seed and makes babies every year. I guess what I am saying is the greenhouses have made me quite lazy as things just plant themselves!

  2. Oh yes, I love letting my cutting celery go to seed, and cilantro is another good one. I do say it's like having a big walk-in cooler :) And I'm all for taking it (more) easy in the summertime.


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