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Making My Own Gardening Weather

March 24, 2013

Season extension is the name of the game in gardening and farming.  We gardeners and farmers are an impatient lot.  Always wanting more sun, less sun, more rain, less rain, no weeds and a bigger harvest.  Is it any wonder that we want to manipulate the weather?  Adding greenhouses to our vegetable gardening plan has meant much more food of a greater variety on our table and in our pantry for sure.

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Reading the signs on my land,  I let volunteer cilantro be my guide for direct seeding in my outside gardens, which usually is about the third week of May.  In the greenhouse the cilantro has a different calendar – the third week of March is about right.  Two months extra at the beginning of the season is pretty good in my estimation for a simple unheated greenhouse.  We gain at the other end with an ensured harvest of warm weather crops that never reliably ripen outside here in my locale.

We have taken the plastic off the greenhouse for two winters now, and exposed the soil to the weather.  Mostly due to the fact that we don’t want to have to worry about snow collapse in the middle of the night, and also to mimic Coleman’s moveable greenhouse rotation plan.  Growing in a fixed greenhouse that only relies on irrigation is a whole different animal than growing in one that has soil that has been exposed to the elements, rain, freezing, thawing etc.  Plants react much differently to rainfall than irrigation, the soil is no different.  You never really irrigate your way out of the desert, no matter how many gallons of water you add.  Been there done that.

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Of course this takes more planning.  I have to wait until the soil conditions are right for tilling just like outside or there will be hell to pay.  We put the cover on during one wind-free hour in late February – I tilled yesterday.  I had to wait impatiently for three weeks for the soil to dry and the cilantro to peek out.

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Before I could just drive everywhere with the tractor, I needed to move some plants.  For me treating perennials like annuals work the best.  I like a clean slate and have found that 1) I don’t weed perennial beds like they deserve.  2) Most plants take just fine to being moved every year.  So the first order of business was to dig the strawberries, thyme, tarragon and a little oregano and safely move them out of the way.  I have new sage and oregano in the wings so I actually left most of those… .

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I added lime yesterday on top of the compost and cover crop, and then let ‘er rip.

Red Norland

Red Norland

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Just to get started we seeded beets, carrots, and kohlrabi, and mulched the potatoes with straw.  The jury is still out on whether or not these first potatoes will just be symphylan magnets or not :(

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Today we have to weed at the sidewalls, rotate the herbs and strawberries into their new berths, and plant a bed of onions.  After the late snow the other day, and frost each morning it feels pretty good to have full day of work planned in the “garden” today.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. March 24, 2013 9:48 am

    I have walked over/through my garden so many times going to the barn sometimes I think I’m compacting it like a sidewalk. I look at the spring growth on the kale and wonder if I can get a decent bunch of greens before it’s tilled up. Reading your back posts have gotten me through a dreary winter :) We grew more low-tech storage food this year than ever. Butternut, onions, sweet potatoes. I am having a serious problem grocery shopping nowdays….. The sticker shock is killing me, and I CAN afford to pay the prices, but it burns my tail that the majority of the food offered locally has more than doubled in price in the last year, I won’t buy it on the principal of it!!! Pretty sure I’m coming down with old-fart-itis! Beth in Ky.

    • March 24, 2013 10:41 am

      Beth, oh dear, I was hoping the old-fartitis wasn’t contagious, but I fear it has spread to the mountains of Oregon! I either need to grocery shop more or less, I can’t take the price hikes either!

      Someone asked me the other day if I had planted any kale, yet, and NO! We have eaten so much kale I will be glad to eat something different in the way of greens for a few months! A couple of more meals with kale is about all I’m good for right now. Don’t even get me started on the price of gas!

  2. Chris permalink
    March 24, 2013 10:16 am

    Love that last photo of your garden assistant! :)

    • March 24, 2013 10:35 am

      Oh yes, they love digging for “treasures” with Mom – I left the voles to them and I concentrated on plants :)

  3. March 24, 2013 10:32 am

    As I’ve been doing some research to see where I can fit in when I make my move to the Willamette Valley later this year I was surprised to read that most Oregon farmers remove their high tunnel covers for the winter. Here in WV they are left on all year. Perhaps we use one with a sturdier frame and thickness for the plastic.

    • March 24, 2013 10:37 am

      WR, a lot leave them on here too, it depends on design, (quonset compared to semi-gable) and if trusses are added or not, and how many employees you have at your disposal…

  4. March 24, 2013 12:15 pm

    I’m so anxious to get out in the garden. I’ve begun the raised-bed prep and I’ve gotten potatoes and onions in the ground, but I long to have my hands in the dirt. I’ve planted heirloom seeds in my “indoor greenhouse” so I’ll have transplants to go in the garden in a few weeks. C’mon spring!

    ~Taylor-Made Ranch~
    Wolfe City, Texas

  5. Fiona permalink
    March 24, 2013 11:48 pm

    Hi, I am reading how you are all hanging out for spring, well I live in Emerald Victoria Australia and it is 3weeks into Autumn here, although I am glad the last of the really hot days are gone, I am not looking forward to the long winter to come. I have not missed getting firewood( only sorce of heating) or trying to dry washing( and with 7 kids it is a lot of washing) but it will be winter all to soon.

    • Racquel permalink
      March 26, 2013 2:05 am

      Hi Fiona,
      I am one of 10 children and remember well playing in the damp laundry Mom had hung in the kitchen during wet winter days. Good luck with that.
      Racquel, Virginia, USA

  6. March 26, 2013 3:51 am

    I’m jealous that you are already out in your garden. Here in Wisconsin, we can’t even see the ground yet, much less do anything with it. This spring (if it ever comes) I plan on buying one of those greenhouse kits from http://www.budgetpackaging.com/greenhouse.html, so I can grow vegetables. Thanks for letting me live vicariously through you for a few minutes!

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