Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Under cover!

Yesterday (Sunday) we made huge progress on the high tunnel--with a great crew of 5, we not only got the second endwall covered inside and out with plastic, but we got the double layer of plastic put over the roof!

It looks more finished than it is, because the excess plastic from the roof nearly reaches the ground. This excess will be the subject of experimentation as integrated gutters to catch rainwater from the roof so that we can pipe it back under the tunnel. We don't want to go into the irrigation business just because we're putting a roof over the garden.

The big header across the north end, in the photo, will be the support for the roof of a tool shed along the outside of the north wall--only 2 feet deep, just enough to reach in and hang garden tools. The roof will be also serve as a permanent scaffolding to make roof replacement and repairs easier. And I'm looking forward to the view from up there!

This morning I was able to figure out quite a bit of the side curtain "theory"--I hope! Tomorrow if it isn't too rainy, we should be able to get those mostly in place, though the details of rigging the system to raise and lower the curtains may take longer. Many ropes and cables that have to link together "just so."

Doors are under way as well. I found some very nice new wooden screen doors at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, slathered them with linseed oil to help preserve them against moisture, and covered them neatly with left-over plastic. Hinged on the outer sides, meeting in the middle, they will form a 6' wide opening when both are open--ample for the garden cart--or we can just slip in one and keep the other tightly shut in winter. In spring the plastic can come off for ventilation, while still keeping cats & dogs out. An old screen door that came with the Brown Barn will be installed in the north endwall, so we'll have cross ventilation and easy access to the garden and tool shed from that end.

The photo shows a bit of the crops we have already planted inside, peeking out from under row covers since the day was warm. All our various crews have been super great about leaping over beds of seedlings and trying not to damage the crops. It takes constant attention, and quite a bit of acrobatics. I really appreciate that no one has whined about it, at least to my face. I had expected grumbling on that account.

But maybe the beauty and tastiness of the crops have convinced everyone that I wasn't crazy to go ahead and plant. We've been harvesting Wrinkly Crinkly Cress, Upland Cress, baby Bok Choi and Broccoli Raab, huge sweet Hakurei white salad turnips, rainbow radishes, green onions, frilly burgundy and chartreuse baby mustard greens, purple orach, magenta spreen, Tampequino Serrano hot peppers, chives, rosemary, sage, and various wild greens from the high tunnel beds already, for our Farmer's Market booth and for the local hospital.

And there's more to come. The chard is still small, but due for thinning this week or next--sweet tender salad greens now, then big lush tropical-looking leaves to steam or saute later. The rows of seedlings are stunning shades of magenta, green and chartreuse, with white, pink, yellow, and beet red stems. I've managed to keep a patch of burgundy green beans alive under the white frost blankets, and just possibly we'll have beans for Christmas. The carrots--old heirloom seed--didn't germinate well, but there are a few coming. The Bok Choi and Raab should be ready for the Farmer's Market Holiday Sale in a couple weeks, and then we have some "regular" broccoli plants that will fill out the space left when we harvest the Raab.

And we'll plant more things once we get the tunnel really done. Out in the garden, we've actually still got basil plants hanging on under layers of row cover...we'll try transplanting them to the high tunnel soon, and see how long we can keep them going in there. As we harvest things, we'll keep planting, moving on to things that are even more cold hardy like lettuce, spinach, corn salad, etc.

Everyone is invited to nibble as they work--our motto is "Feed the workers!"


Catlady said...

Curiosity question (from my own lack of experience in such matters) - if the garden is growing in winter, under cover, how do things like bees and other insects do their part toward the growth of the plants? Or are they all non-pollination-crucial-for-ripening plants?

Also, I have to say - I know the plastic-turned-rain gutter plan will work fine. I hope that you were somewhat inspired by a particular example when you were here ;)

peter said...

if your readers are looking for more information on USDA plant hardiness zones, there is a detailed, interactive USDA plant hardiness zone map at http://www.plantmaps.com/usda_hardiness_zone_map.php