welcome, and thank you for joining me on my farm and studio in southern lancaster county, pennsylvania

Friday, October 9, 2009

imagine the possibilities...

After reading a couple books by Eliot Coleman, I am pretty excited about exploring the possibility of growing crops all year long. No, we're not talking tomatoes in January. The expense and struggle of keeping a heat-loving vegetable happy in the dead of winter holds very little appeal. But - cold-loving crops - now there's something to give some thought to! There are numerous salad greens as well as root vegetables that thrive in cool or even cold temperatures.

So this could be a solution to the question of how to keep the greenhouse productive all year long. After all, it's a very large expense which needs to be kept busy. This fall I'll prep the indoor beds, adding any soil amendments that may be necessary. In February and March heirloom vegetable seeds will be started in pots and grown until about May or June. Then the beds will be planted with the heat-lovers - tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, squash, sweet potatoes. In August, Those same beds will be underplanted with salad greens and root vegetables. By the time the summer vegetables are done, the salads should be ready to start harvesting. If the timing of successive plantings is done correctly harvesting should go on all winter with the greenhouse being kept just above freezing, at about 35°.

But for now, although October is way behind the optimum schedule for fall planting, I'm doing a test bed anyway. Just a small one, 4' x 15', covered with a low plastic-covered tunnel. Half will be onions and half will be carrots. Ideally the onions will put on some growth this fall and then just lie in wait for spring. If all goes according to plan, I'll have onions for market next summer before most other growers. I'm also hoping the carrots get some decent growth on them before winter. If they do, then I should be able to harvest them all winter for my own kitchen. There's no guarantee this will work, especially with the late planting, but if it does it'll be well worth it.

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