Gardening in the ice and snow of Pennsylvania seems impossible until you try it in an unheated hoophouse. 2011 will be my third year of year-round gardening and this blog will be a journal and calendar of planting schedules, successes, failures and hopefully, a bountiful harvest.
It's 62 degrees today and it was hard not to go out into the garden. It actually SMELLS like spring! So I watched the 5 day forecast and decided to take a chance and plant some mesclun in the hoophouse. It was 70 degrees in there, so I unzipped the plastic and got my hands dirty. I covered everything in the hoophouse with a row cover hoping that it will keep the soil a little warmer at night. After I planted the mesclun, I took some time to turn the soil in the outside garden to get the fall leaves worked into the soil. Hopefully it will be nice and composted by the time planting time gets here.
Jan. 27 lettuce starts
It's hard to know just how this weather is going to go and we just might be in for a very cold blast before spring. After reviewing my notes from the last few years though, I decided to sow some lettuce, spinach and even tomatoes inside. I put in the lettuce on January 27 and it only took 3 days for it to sprout. The spinach and tomatoes were seeded today (January 31) and are sitting on the heating mat. They should be popping up within a week or so. Last year's tomatoes were started on February 1 and in the end, I had a great harvest. Way better than anyone else's garden. These early tomato starts are just for me because they will be moved into the hoophouse in April. My friends' tomatoes won't be started until the end of February otherwise I only have ungainly, redwood-sized plants to hand out.
After the excess of the holidays, I always feel a need to downsize. What I mean by that is that we like to eat down our stores of food in the pantry and frig and then clean it out and start anew. Of course, doing that means that we eat some very interesting combinations. Everything from the garden has been consumed and we are ready for the hoophouse to defrost and start producing our very early greens. But that won't happen for another 5 weeks, so we will be buying our produce from Tanner's, our local market. Well, I looked into the frig this morning and laughed when I saw what a sad sight it presented. Pretty much, the freezer only had ice cream and the refrigerator had a stale, half finished chocolate cake and a mega bottle of Diet Coke. Well now, that's an interesting diet! Not sure if that's really part of my New Year's resolution. And it will get worse before it gets better. It's hard to believe that when we were getting ready for the Christmas party, that appliance was packed and I worried whether I could fit more food in! But the party guests must not have eaten for a week before coming and the frig was starting to look a little lean by the end of the week.
It's cold here in Eastern Pennsylvania and the ground is finally frozen, including the soil in the hoophouse. No snow is in the forecast, but we've still got a long way to go before Spring. Maybe by that time we'll have restocked the refrigerator!