I am so very excited to share with you a little peek into our "Winter Garden". It has been sown directly from seed that was planted in the last couple of days in October and we covered it with homemade hoop houses. We have collards, kale, lettuce, swiss chard, spinach, sweet peas, and a few beets. This was an experiment for us and we are SO very pleased with the results. I am hooked. I actually prefer this season of gardening over the traditional summer garden! (No sweat, much fewer bugs and weeds!) Rich greens are a delicious, nutrient dense food, that we can not get enough of! Since my kids have been raised on them, they love them. We have had to "pace ourselves" so we don't over harvest our greens. We didn't know how much to plant or what to expect, but now we have a better idea for next year. The thing that is great about greens, is you can just clip off the plants and partially harvest it by taking the largest leaves and it just keep growing for you! Next year...LOOK OUT, because I am going to get serious about what we plant! I want to have enough to juice (a lot) and sell or share! I have visions of cabbage, broccoli, beets, leeks and greens dancing in my head! I used to buy my greens from a bulk organic wholesaler (for $50-70 a case - YIKES), or get from our local health food store owner's personal green house, but those days are quickly becoming a thing of the past! (YES! It is so satisfying and delicious to grow your own food! )
Here is a short video tour of the hoop houses we made and how they work:
All the covered rows you see in the video are not growing things. We tried to use up some old seed and much of it did not "take". Here are a few peeks under the plastic. The photos were taken on December 18th. Our weather has been typical for TN at night (zone 6 planting). It is rather flippant, cycling between cold and not so cold. Wet and not so wet. Gray days and sunning days. You never quite know what you will get. The nights usually freeze and frost is common in the morning (at least). One of the things that we are susceptible to here on our farm, is high winds. Storms blow through all year long and when we see them coming we have be sure that we "batten down the hatches" before it hits or will get things sent in the far away fields. (It has happened! I have chased and tried to hold down a portable shed,( in the rain) that we THOUGHT was staked well enough. I thought I was going to Kansas! I couldn't stop her..I let it go and had to retrieve it from a far off barbed wire fence that it got caught on, after the storm.) We have had a really could test since these row covers were installed and they passed the test with gleaming colors! We tired miscellaneous clamps to hold the tarp on at first and they did not ever come close to passing the test. Then we found some wonderful clamps (that are linked in the supply list below). They get 4 stars - we are set! We expect it to get colder in Jan and February. I hope to update this post or link another then.
Low Bush Cascadian Sweet Peas are pictured above.
I think these take a really long time to bear their peas when done over the winter...
so we watch and we wait...
Most supplies can be purchased at your local hardware supply store. Here is the supply list that covers our 4ft wide Winter Garden beds of various lengths:
- PVC Clamps : 3-4 per bar
- 1" PVC pipe, cut into 2ft lengths and driven into the ground about 4ft apart.
- 1/2" PVC pipe cut to 80" lengths (This left 40" of waste on each 10 ft pole purchased. You could make your pact wider or try to make your row higher, but we saw not need for the extra plastic needed to do that or the increase possibility for the wind catch it.)
- We used 8 mil plastic cut into strips 7ft wide for our 4 ft wide beds. We added 7 feet to the length of the bed length for the rows to allow for coverage on the ends to be fully enclosed.
This post has been shared at Simple Lives Thursday.