Harvested carrots from the greenhouse!
Today we finished cleaning up the hoop house from a summer and fall as a tomato bed. We planted peas, dinosaur and red winter kale, bok choy, tat soi, purple orach, chard, radicchio, cilantro and purslane.
We have tiny volunteer tomato plants all over! Some of them made it through the clean up today. We’ll see how far they get…
Super flashy shade set up for the transplants from the hoop house outside.
We stake with what we can find…no kitchen utensil is safe.
Tiny bit droopy but hanging in!
But its better than the heat of a greenhouse for these brassicas.
Not too shabby for the chard either.
Onions and parsley!
pig out on peas!
saving the dandelion and mallow root for medicinal teas and tinctures.
Proof that the weed whacking was done 🙂
Well, I did pretty good with the list considering I hosted out of town friends and in-town friends excited to see them. I also played Legos, played on the playground and held a brand new baby. I have pics of the work in the garden to come!
Right now, I’m working on an experiment to try transplanting the more cool season plants out of the hoop house into the garden outside. Several weeks ago I did the red Russian kale and it seems to have finally adjusted and is growing more new leaves. It got totally buried in a freak snow storm, so I am quite proud of its progress. Today I transplanted the parsley outside and harvested a lot to dry. This weekend I plan to take the broccoli and Brussels sprouts out too as its getting pretty hot in the hoop house. We have it vented all day and night now.
Today I took out the cauliflower plants since I read they don’t often form side shoots once the main flower head is harvested like broccoli does. I picked the leaves off the plants and will be making them into ‘kale’ chips for our upcoming 5 day backpacking trip. We’re planning to juice the stems as well.
We harvested and ate all the beets over the last week or so. (pink number one and number two!!!) And, the carrots have been tested and seem totally ready to go as well.
The baby seedlings are growing well and some slow chile germinators are still joining in. We are ready to put some of them in the ground in the hoop house along with squashes, fennel and dill. We also have a second crop of chard coming up in the hoop house and planted malabar spinach. Yum! Now if I can only relax enough to let my friends take care of them while I’m gone!
I can’t wait to share more updates!
Seriously! I’m ready for the snow to be done! We didn’t get as much moisture as we needed this winter, so I’m thankful overall for the forest’s sake, but I was under the impression the storm was going to come tomorrow, so I’d have an extra day to get ready. But, there is really no point of being mad about things you can’t change…and its pretty beautiful outside. I have some pretty awesome indoor projects, too, so I can keep myself occupied, and tomorrow maybe a cross country ski is in store for me.
I did prepare for the snow in one way. I find that seeds of cool weather crops do even better emerging from a snow melt around here, and since April snows are not freak storms around here I’ve been able to test it a bunch of springs (or the transition times between our northern AZ seasons ‘winterpsringswinterspring’ and ‘something weird with wind’). We shall see. I planted bok choy, daikon radish, carrots, dwarf siberian kale, spinach and purple orach. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orache I also transplanted red russian kale from the hoophouse outside several days ago. Check out the pics from that day further on down. Oh, and I planted malabar spinach in the kale’s spot in the hoophouse. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basella_alba
Here’s the sad pansy…it could bounce back, right…?
Here it is just a few days ago. I got a little over- excited and the warm weather!
Anyway, I had refried beans, corn grits, lacinato kale thinings and avocado for breakfast and I can face any superficial grief about the possibility of crispy brown pansies with grace and poise. I may even be able to face the merino wool sweater that accidentally made it into the dryer. If its tiny, I just can’t change it, so I’ll have to just relax.
Some kale transplants!
Tiny lettuces coming up in the cracks between walking stones. Thanks for reseeding yourselves!
Baby onions…seeded themselves, too!
Naking cherry bush.
Lovage! Celery taste. So strong! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lovage
Obvious spring TULIP! Flashy!
Last fall I transplanted a hundred iris rhizomes from the backyard to the front yard. They are going to go off this year!
Oh, and here’s a bonus pic of the kale harvest before the transplant outside.
Hang on out there little guys! You can do it!
We built a hoop house with a raised bed next the the house at the end of last November. Meant to do it all summer long, but my sweetheart and I were just hating our jobs and putting it off. So, we finally got it up before the first snow. We quit the crappy jobs too, and have much more reasonable ones now, which is lucky.
The Thursday before xmas 2011, old friends came into town. We had planned to drive south out of the cold as is the wonder of AZ living, but we ended up just hanging out in the hoop house all day. I planted half the 8×15 foot space while my buddies knitted and schemed, all in summer clothes. Onions, garlic, parsley, red russian kale, spinach and bok choy.
Over New Year’s weekend I planted most of the rest of the space over a few days. Carrots, beets, cilantro, cauliflower, broccoli, brussel’s sprouts, swiss chard, and more garlic. Then, in the middle of January, I soaked and planted the pea seeds. Borage too! (can’t wait to candy the flowers, like I am always intending!) A few days later I got two 55 gallon plastic barrels from a person I know who works at the pepsi bottling plant in town, to use as thermal mass. I think they had something sugary in them, so it took some rinsing. They warm up in the sun of the day and radiate heat out during cold nights.
The plants getting going:
There were moments of strife since we built the hoophouse; big winds dislodged the side and snow got in, and it sometimes makes a major thwapping sound when the winds gust. The leaves of all the plants have been solid with frost, and I imagine that its been down in 0 degrees F in there a time or two, but we’ve had no plants die at all. I’ve never tested the cruiferous and other cool-season crops to this extreme before, but they totally perform! There’s hardly been a brown or cripsy leaf edge. It survived two feet of snow. Our friend came over the swept it off because we were out of town for that storm. It was a little nerve racking to be away from all the big green guys during the true test of the pvc pipe construction.
The plants now. I tried to get the snow outside in the frame:
Now at the end of March, some of the bok choy is flowering and the spinach is getting ready to as well. We plan to save seed. The broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts are just beginning to transform from just leafy into their mature and eventually delicious shapes. And, the beets are carrots have pretty substantial, if still baby, roots. We have been harvesting loads of veggies, having a huge salad or stir fry every day, and using fresh herbs in everything. I’m no longer a regular member of our local CSA that gets winter veggies from farms around the Phoenix area, because i have so much here at the house. ( they have a super storefront, that it do visit – regional asparagus and citrus!! – along with the health food store, since I love young coconuts and cashews and cacao other luxuries) The intense high desert sun has made the hoophouse a topical paradise in the day time. I spend weekend days in there with the sarong on.
I’m getting ready to start tomato and peppers from seed in paper to-go coffee cups. I’ve been having friends save theirs for me. The hoophouse has proven to be my favorite way to garden in this extreme environment, so far. We’ll see how it continues to amaze as the seasons continue on. Seasons in Northern Arizona are different than what I experienced growing up in the northern plains. All winter its “winter-spring” back and forth. Then, we have “something weird with dry wind” where spring should go. Then, a hot and dry summer period, then “monsoons” that start after July 4th which feel like hot humid summer everyday until noon then heavy rains and then spring at night. Then rains continue into fall, and we do have a nice, but pretty warm fall after the rains quit. I can freeze during any of these seasons and the growing season tends to be very short. right when you are trying to get little seedlings to grow the dry winds are persisting. And we have gophers! But we made a chicken wire basket that we built the raised bend into. No one should be getting into this part of the garden from below!
I have a message with all of this sharing. If you can, figure out a way to make a hoophouse of your own. An internet search will yield better instructions than I can write, so surf on!