Let us experiment

Today, Dan and I ventured to the hoophouse to get our hands dirty, bask in the upper 80s temperatures, and sow some seeds.  It is all just an experiment, but why not see if we can push the envelope a bit?  I for one would love to be eating salad from my own garden in 2 months!  A few years ago (before blog) we successfully planted early lettuce in our raised bed hoops, shoveling off the snow, setting up the hoops and starting lettuce seeds in mid March.  We celebrated May Day that year with salad from the hoophouse.  Maybe this year we’ll be celebrating Tax Day with homegrown salad?

Things in the hoophouse are mixed.  The fall planted spinach is still alive, and actually seems to be growing a bit.  The leeks are hanging in there, looking pretty tattered but still delicious.  The Swiss chard was dead, and the lettuce seedlings I planted in early September did not make it either.  The lettuce plants looked ok for a long time, but when I checked last week, they were very dead.  Poor things.  Maybe if I’d done floating row cover, then a row of plastic?  Something to think about next year.

Today, we pulled the Swiss chard, weeded the area, spread a nice layer of compost, and planted seeds.  I marked out 1 foot squares using a milk crate, and we planted 4 lettuce/endive/escarole per square, and 16 arugula.  The daytime temps in the hoophouse have been in the upper 80s with the mild weather we’ve been having, dropping to a few degrees above the outdoor temperature at night.  The soil is not frozen, and is uniformly moist no doubt thanks to the melting snow.  Nonetheless, I did water in the seeds as the compost was dry.  We left a few squares empty for succession planting — planning for another seeding session in 2 weeks.

Below are some scenes from the Henbogle vegetable garden.

We’ve had a long stretch of mild weather, and much of the snow covering the garden is gone.  It looks more like March 21 than February 21 –if only!

Some overwintering parsley.

Busy, busy hens.

The blueberry hedge, edged by my leaning fence section.  You can see some overwintering scallions in the raised bed on the right.  Spring is coming, but I’m feeling very impatient!

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11 Responses to “Let us experiment”

  1. Laura Says:

    I’m always guestimating spacing in the garden using my hands (8″ spread), but your milk carton is ingenious! I think we’ve got one in the garage and I’m totally going to conscript it into the garden tool stash.

    I pulled winter weeds, raked beds and planted peas (shelling and snow) this weekend. It was sunny and beautiful and so fantastic to have my hands in the dirt. I wish I’d had time to seed some radish and early spinach as well, maybe tomorrow afternoon while I’m waiting on the farrier. :D

    • Ali Says:

      The milk crate is so handy! I use them to mark out 1 foot squares, to collect weeds, lug tools, and provide shade and wind protection for new transplants while they adapt. And of course, they make a comfy seat, too.

  2. vrtlaricaana Says:

    I love this method with milk carton! I guess that watering doesnt mess up this layout?

    • Ali Says:

      I gently watered in the seeds with a watering can (my hoses are all put away for the winter as we will have freezing weather again before spring). The squares stay marked long enough to sow the seeds/plant the transplants, then they will wash away or be covered with mulch. The next time I plant anything, I just mark new squares.

  3. Callie Says:

    I always learn something. Thanks for the milk crate tip for marking out planting areas. Impressive gardening!

  4. Daphne Says:

    I hope you get your lettuce by tax day. That would be great. I think I have more snow down here than you have up north. Though it is quickly melting as the days have gotten warmer.

  5. 10yearchallenge Says:

    I love the milk crate idea!!!

  6. Leigh Says:

    This looks so good! A hoop house is definitely on my list of things to do this year.

  7. Denise Says:

    Cool! Milk crates are so useful but I would have never thought of this one…LOVE IT!

  8. Thomas Says:

    Can I just say how envious I am to see you working in your hoop house??? I would kill for one this year.

    I love your milk crate technique. What a great and simply to mark your bed!

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