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Monday, December 21, 2015

Christmas Carrots

After clearing the snow off this garden bed cover, I realized that it was frozen shut. Fortunately there was a bit of a gap and I was able to pry it open with a pitchfork. I'll need to work on wintertime accessibility of all my garden frames. I'm thinking about a .5x3" gap where the lid meets the frame, for sticking a bar in to pry things loose. It could be covered with a flap of plastic to help keep the cold out.

Once opened, I was happy to push aside some leaf mulch and dig up some crispy, bright orange carrots. Seeing the soil under the leaves was a bonus; it's a sight I miss during these cold, short, frozen days.

My Dad has been keeping winter carrots in the ground for years in British Columbia in a similar climate, but I always thought I had too many interested animals to get away with it. However I finally learned to mound my carrots to keep the slugs off them -- a few handfuls of sand or soil at a strategic point when the carrot tubers start to show -- and this year, that prevented most of the damage we would normally see. In addition, there have been no gophers since installing large wood beneath the ground... something tells me that they don't enjoying burrowing through wood! Just another fringe benefit of hugelkultur.

For those who have been following this blog, these carrots are growing in "Bill's bed," featured in Frames for Food and Summertime Bounty, earlier this year. This bed has come a long way since last April, and produced tomatoes, sweet peppers, paprika peppers, Swiss chard, celery, radishes, chives, and kohlrabi this year. (And catnip. Way, way, way more catnip than I could ever use.) The Swiss chard, above left, was hard hit by cold temps, but will be ready to grow with the first signs of spring. As the days start getting longer again, I can feel myself leaning toward spring when this bed will flourish again. 

Happy Solstice!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Tipi Greenhouse - Part 1

I've often wondered why it took me so long to start using tipis in the garden. 
They triple-function as trellises, greenhouses, and animal exclusion!

This tipi is covered with plastic on the east, south, and west sides.

This is the south side.

This is the north side, which is covered by an old blanket, a comforter that I bought at a thrift store for $2. It was labeled, "dog blanket," because it had a small rip in it and was not in great shape. It actually had never been used by a dog and was perfect for my tipi!

Here you can see that it's about 14 degrees F or -10 C outdoors...

While inside the tipi greenhouse it is about 46 degrees F or +8 C. Nice!

A tangent: Meanwhile, outdoors I have to admire the marjoram that is still growing in the snow...

...and one asparagus plant that just doesn't want to go dormant this winter! All the other asparagus plants have long since turned golden and shed their needley leaves. This one just keeps going. Interesting that it is growing in the aspen hotbed...

A few days later it is 10 degrees F, or about -12 C, outdoors.

Inside the tipi greenhouse it is just staying above freezing, at 33 F, or less than one degree on the + side in Celsius.

The Swiss chard doesn't seem to mind the colder temps.

It's not growing very much but it's staying alive, and that is my goal! I can't wait to see the plants really come to life in early spring inside the tipi, when it is still too cold outside for seeds to germinate.