Spring – It Is About Time

daffodil fresh wiarton
Early bloomers brave the blustery spring weather.

Spring is here. No really. I think this time it’s going to stay.

Not like all those other times we had our hopes dashed. Don’t even talk to me about April when the most snow we saw all season fell. Of course, we had taken the snow blower off the tractor.

As the snow piled up, I watched all of my precious crop planning get backed up further and further. The temperatures stayed too cold to work in the unheated green house. And it continued to snow.

But , darn it, I kept up with my seeding schedule. The plants just kept growing. Then I ran out of space. Well, lights actually.

tomato seedlings fresh wiarton
Tomato seedlings growing in the hoop house, when weather permits.

We are off-grid, or we could have just slapped up a few more sets of lights, no problem. But when you are trying to balance power availability with power needs, things get a bit tricky. You have to be creative. And you have to adjust your planting schedule.

Thankfully now, only the tenderest of the seedlings are inside the house. The rest are thriving in the hoop house as I do the dance of daily (hourly) temperature moderation by rolling up, then rolling down the sides and throwing water at the driest soil as needed.

But the attention is paying off, I like to tell myself. Whether it’s due to my antics with ventilation and watering, or not, there are a few things thriving in the hoop house.

Claytonia

claytonia fresh produce wiarton
Claytonia is an unusual but tasty salad green for cold seasons.

Until last April, I had never eaten claytonia, although I had read about it in Eliot Coleman’s The Winter Harvest Handbook years ago. On a whim I threw some claytonia seed in the soil one autumn along with some spinach and miner’s lettuce. None of the claytonia grew, so I promptly forgot about my experiment.

The following spring weird spoon-shaped rosettes started happily growing. And growing. Then there were flowers! Yup, claytonia. I tried it and was pleased with the fresh green flavour. It looked kinda fancy on my plate, too.

Little did I know, the claytonia was setting a seed bank in my hoop house that I plan to reap the benefits of for seasons to come. We can harvest it quite ruthlessly and it keeps coming back. But, it does not like hot weather, so we are treating it like the seasonal specialty it is.

Orach

orach seedlings fresh produce wiarton
Seedlings of purple orach started themselves in the hoop house from last year’s plants.

These little beauties are such a welcome site after the bleak mid-winter. Rosy and slightly salty, orach adds a nice flavour profile to any salad. I talk more about it in my Seasonal Eating post from last year.

I think we need to have a contest to come up with a better name, though.

Seedlings

seedlings fresh produce wiarton
A selection of seedlings spend time outside before being planted in the garden.

Some of the cold tolerant seedlings are graduating to the great outdoors. They have to be introduced slowly to full sun, wind and cold night temperatures. More monitoring is required for these plants on their “field trip.” I am turning into quite the mother hen to these trays of vegetables and herbs.

This weekend I’ll plant out more kale and maybe some lettuce. Other seedlings are on their way to larger pots and homes with other gardeners.

The Wiarton Farmers’ Market is only two weeks away.  We’re grateful spring has decided to stick around!

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April Showers Bring…

stormy sky over hoop house
Spring storms arrive over the hoop house in April.

 

More decisions. And sometimes tacos.

Market gardening i.e. The Waiting Game. And the Second-Guessing Game. Market gardening requires this weird mix of almost hyper-anal planning and uber flexibility. It’s a constant mulling over of options and decision making with every decision starting a domino chain of other decisions. A lot of those decisions have to do with the weather. Here’s the latest discussion going on in my head:

What are the predicted highs and lows for the next few days and is that sun going to shine or not? If I put these seedlings in the hoop house, will it be too cold overnight? Will I have to carry them inside again through the rain and wind? Wouldn’t they be better off without that stress? Wouldn’t I be better off without that stress? Or could I cover them with frost blanket enough to keep them warm? But how many days is it staying cold and cloudy? And how long will my family put up with all of these baby plants inside the house?

Believe me, there’s a lot more discussion going on  – mostly regarding transplants, starting more greens and how to deal with finding flea beetle damage already. Plus now it’s day two of a heavy rainfall warning. Sigh. Continue reading “April Showers Bring…”