It’s 43° here in sunny Eastern Pennsylvania (~1 hour north of Philly) and it seemed like a perfect day to garden. Hubby Ron actually had to take the gate off the hinges so I could access the garden through the heavy snow and ice. Put on my snow boots and trudged out to the hoophouse wondering just what exactly I would find. Shoveled 1½’ of heavy snow to get to the zippered door and when I opened it up – ahhh, that wonderful smell of growth wafted out and made me anxious to plant. The soil was a warm 42° and the wintered-over crops (spinach, Chinese cabbage, lettuce, Swiss chard and mesclun) were growing out of the soft earth. In fact, if this heat wave keeps up, we’ll be eating salad from the garden in a week or two! I reached in to the hoophouse and did a little weeding, because of course, the weeds wintered-over too and then sowed a patch of mesclun and one of lettuce. Gave the garden a sprinkling of warm water and closed it up to keep the heat in. The hoophouse that has a domed roof seems to be surviving the harsh weather. The flat roofed hoophouse ripped a little and collapsed a bit under the weight of the snow, but considering that it both are in their 3rd winter, I think that my experimental sewn hoophouses are a success. The wintered-over crops in the flat hoophouse are surviving and starting to grow too, but I do think that the domed hoophouse is the smartest design in an area that gets snow and ice. A bigger hoophouse that would span 2 beds would be very cool since I could actually go into it on these February days and enjoy the aroma of spring two months early! Maybe that will be a future garden project – a bigger, plastic, sewn hoophouse.
My inside plantings have germinated and I moved the tray of seedings (tomatoes and broccoli) onto my grow light rack by my picture window. Ron constructed a rack out of an old laundry room contraption, added a few grow lights and I am in business! I sowed some Swiss chard today down the basement and they are being kept warm on the heating mat.
INSIDE: Cherry tomatoes (2.1), roma tomatoes (2/1), beefsteak tomatoes (2/1), broccoli (2/1), Swiss chard (2/6)
OUTSIDE IN HOOPHOUSE: Swiss chard (wintered-over), Chinese Cabbage (wo), spinach (wo), lettuce (wo), mesclun (wo), lettuce (direct sow 2/6), mesclun (ds 2/6)