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

Winter greens under quick hoops after cold spell

Quick hoop in winter

Frostbitten tatsoiI promised you a peek under the quick hoops, but it took a few days for the snow to thaw enough that the edges of the fabric weren't frozen down.  Winter lows have so far dropped to 10 degrees Fahrenheit, and we've had a few days where even the highs remained below freezing --- a pretty good test.

(You might want to read about the winter greens I'm growing first.  Also, sorry about the smudge on the camera lens.)

The bad news is that our two varieties of Asian greens are pretty much kaput.  They were vigorous and productive in the fall, but I probably should have harvested them harder and planned to completely eat Frostbitten lettucethem up before cold weather hit.  Instead, I left a lot behind, hoping they'd be strong enough to keep going into the winter, and most of those stored leaves turned to inedible mush.  Live and learn!

On the other hand, our Black-seeded Simpson lettuce fared much better than I expected.  Although several leaves did get nipped, the majority of the plants look healthy and ready to eat.

I didn't expect much from our mustard since two varieties (Tendergreen and Broadleaf) had started to bolt in the sunny December weather.  I was wrong!  The Mustard flowermustard looked nearly untouched by the cold weather and Giant mustard (the one variety that didn't bolt) has plenty of leaves to get us through another couple of weeks until growth starts back up.

Of course, the kale is still just as delicious looking as it was last week, and our Hakurei turnips might actually be putting out new leaves (although small and slowly.)

But here's a surprise --- Fordhook Giant Swiss chard, out in the open with no quick hoop covering, is still alive and doing pretty well!  I didn't think the Swiss chard even deserved protection because the colorful stalked varieties I've grown previously have wimped out over the winter.  But Swiss chard in winterreports that Fordhook Giant is a much more winter hardy variety seem to be founded in fact.  I guess we'll stick to the "ugly" variety and turn Swiss chard into a winter standby!

All told, our greens and lettuce beds have given us at least sixty meals so far --- pretty good for the minimal effort of tossing down seeds, weeding and mulching once, then erecting quick hoops.  I thought I'd planted too many beds, but there's really no such thing as too much fresh food in the winter.

Our chicken waterer keeps the flock busy on cold days when they're all cooped up.

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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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