The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

First crocus and lettuce planting

Spring planting

After posting that it was going to be too cold to make my traditional lettuce planting this week, a warm rain Monday night washed away the snow.  Tuesday morning, soil temperatures under the quick hoops in the mule garden were 40 degrees!  So I cleared out some old kale (the good leaves went in our bellies, the rest went to the chickens), added a layer of horse manure (stockpiled last fall), and scattered some seeds.

And by Wednesday morning, something had come up...just not in the lettuce bed.  The first crocus of the year!  Our crocuses bloom whenever they feel like it, but I'm pretty sure this is the earliest bloom date since we've been on the farm.  On the other hand, I only see the one flower --- everyone else seems to have paid attention to the long range forecast which consists of seasonal weather in the week to come.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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the next time you plant lettuce, do you think you might also set up a coldframe in the same site, and also the traditional lettuce bed, with muslin cover, just to have actual controls on which is better, since I think the snows do insulate, with the lower-to-the-ground methods...
Comment by adrianne Thu Jan 31 09:24:17 2013
Mom --- I've tried both and quick hoops did a lot better for me. You can read the comparison post here.
Comment by anna Thu Jan 31 10:09:08 2013

Blackwater VA, feb 5 1996 -21 degrees. Average lows go from 22 up to 26 on feb 28th. Daytime high run from 45 up to 53 at the end of the month. You will receive frost 90% of the time from October 23 through April 16.

Planting now? You are an optimist!

Why not build a hoop greenhouse near the barn to start your seeds for transplant? You could then pretend that December and January never happen.

Comment by Gerry Thu Jan 31 17:40:09 2013
Gerry --- I'm only planting things that can handle quite a lot of cold, and only under cover. You might be interested in my post about why I don't want a greenhouse. We've had great luck using this methodology in the past and I'm quite confident we'll have tender new lettuce leaves to eat by the beginning of March.
Comment by anna Thu Jan 31 19:45:41 2013

I think its kind funny that you have a crocus that came up already. While everything is a little ahead this year, my crocuses have not even made a peep yet. They must know something the rest of the plants dont....

Comment by T Thu Jan 31 22:58:38 2013

I was going for ironic/funny. I think I read that you live in zone 6. Up here on the coast south of Boston, I live in zone 6b. If I tried to plant anything I would need a hammer and chisel to make the holes for the seeds.

I had read about your aversion to greenhouses, but... I'd never opt for a hoop greenhouse. I'd build a modified lean-to with insulated walls. Your average daily high temps enable very good passive solar storage and drastically reduces the need for additional additional energy. January would be the problematic month. I think the advantages of getting a jump on the growing season with strong transplants is worth the trade offs. I have a grow tent in my basement, and a few diy tents under construction. I've already started my peppers [many supper hot] already, and have lots of plants nearing transplant stage. Once moved to larger pots, I will have good sized plants for the containers by the start of May. I am starting my tomato seeds this weekend.

I am already looking forward to the first peppers and tomato. [I give away the supper-hot peppers, but I love to grow them.]

Comment by Gerry Fri Feb 1 09:15:34 2013

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