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Greenhouse tour :(, :)

January 6, 2009

I finally could walk on solid ground today, the snow is almost gone, and I couldn’t put off going inside the greenhouses any longer.  Eeny, meeney, miney, which one to go in first?  #1 only has my tools and was seeded to cover crop, and I was worried that the sparrows would eat all my seed… .  #2 has all the winter greens, the smell of frost damaged coles greets us every time we walk by.  # 3 is still the snow home for Friendly, Rhett and Chestnut, our Katahdins.  They still have quite a bit of room and we have been taking feed and water to them.  They don’t seem claustrophobic at all.   So we picked #2 with the greens, after deciding we didn’t care anymore about the sparrows getting a little seed from us.  That is the least of our worries.

I have gotten a few comments saying that I have a good attitude about this, but really I’m not dealing at all.  Except in my usual manner, not dealing with the dilemma is my way of dealing with the dilemma.  Inertia, procrastination, stalling, it’s all the same.  I probably walk by these greenhouses 10 times a day, it is like they aren’t there.  As weeks go by, we hear of more and more damage on other farms, and some people are a lot worse off than us.  Some nurseries lost 50 to 100 greenhouses. 

I have gardened longer without greenhouses than with them.  A tool, a crutch, I don’t know which, all I do know is that what I had planned for the next several seasons probably won’t happen.  We’ll be lucky to get one greenhouse out of this deal.  Can I grow enough food for us?  Sure.  Will it be the same as this past year?  I doubt it.  With the number of greenhouses smashed in the Pacific Northwest, supplies to build them are short.  I guess I should quit procrastinating and get on the list… .

Here’s the tour:

That rakish angle doesn’t look too bad does it? 

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It’s hard to tell, but the track for the doors is bent.  Not quite so easy to go in there now. 

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The first 8′ feet of our greenhouses are framed off, with inner doors added.  We used these as shelters for our laying flock and turkeys during the winter.  Having several greenhouses gave us a good rotation and rest for the different flocks.   The 8′  “personnel” area in the front was were we stored feed and supplies.  These doors are ricked out of shape, and now are hard to open.  They can be saved though. 

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This is the heaviest gauge pipe available for this style of greenhouse.  Apparently it isn’t strong enough.   

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Kales eye view of the roof/cover. 

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Sad greenhouse owners eye view… .  Cry, cuss, and sigh all sum up how I feel, oh and throw dejected in there too.

Well that’s enough of the structure, here is the plant tour.  Most of what transpired here is from the cold, not the collapse.  So no surprises here for me, just fodder for the garden journal. 

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All the lettuce is toast except a few Brune ‘d Hiver, and Winter Density plants.  I get to this point in the year and I have eaten enough salad, so the lettuce isn’t a big deal. 

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The Buckshorn Plantain froze pretty severely, but the crown is still alive.  Sometimes this plant does really well, and sometimes, it does this and comes back in the spring.  Our coldest temperature was 11F for several days.  I didn’t cover this, because I’m looking for plants that survive without much extra work.


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These bok choy are frosted worse than they look in the photo.  I did cover these.  While edible, they may succumb to mush with the next cold spell.  But, the crowns look good on these too.  If I don’t pick the outer leaves and leave them for protection, these should sprout excellent, tender stalks in the spring.  Better than any broccoli! 

Tough ol’ chicory, this plant always does well.  It is a hard sell here, because of the bitterness, so usually I end up eating this.  What more could a girl want?  Bitter greens and a hidden container of espresso ganache disguised in the back of the fridge and no one is none the wiser.  😉 

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I tried 3 different things with these cabbage plantings before our recent cold spell. 
a.)  harvested some and stored in the barn in a little straw bale nook.
b.)  covered some with towels, or extra cabbage leaves and left in place.
c.)  left in place – no protection.

Method a.  Now I have too much cabbage harvested and I need to do something with it before it dries out.

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Good thing I’m German, braised cabbage is very good.   In everything.  Ruth Less eats this like it is going out of style, so I guess we’ll eat our way out of this harvest.  (should cancel out all that ganache – oh wait, the chicory is doing that, phew I’m safe!)(and if the ganache is made with zero mile Guernsey cream, and fair trade bitter chocolate, I’m in the clear right?)

Method b.  I removed the towels and sheets, and the cabbage is fine underneath.

Method c.  I can’t tell the difference between the covered heads and and the ones who had to brave the cold. 

Methods a. and c. suit me the best.  If cold threatens again, or if these heads that are showing a little frost damage start to spoil, I will make kraut.  The already harvested heads are too dry, and I honestly think we can eat our way through them.


The stars in all this?  The kales that didn’t get smashed and this cabbage,  January King.  This is an open pollinated variety that I have always grown outside.  It is a little more fibrous than the more tender summer type cabbages, but it tastes pretty good in the late winter.  And I just can’t help but love it because it is always so pretty, and I can eat it too.

Not greenhouse related at all, but Trace has decided he needs to sit on the couch when his humans are sitting there too.  He backs up to the couch and plunks his butt down and looks to make sure we are looking.  At 18 months, he has really calmed down, and is starting to communicate his needs consistently.  It has taken us a while but we have figured out when he goes “shopping” for dirty socks or hand shoes, he really wants out.  He has learned to use the dog handle on the screen door to let us know he wants in.  Hopefully, a sister of his will be available in 2010.  It seems a long way off, but time flys in dog years.
Trace and Hang Dog.

24 Comments leave one →
  1. January 7, 2009 1:48 am

    Oh your poor polytunnels 😦

    I feel for you and the loss of the cover and your crops, I really do…

    Cw x

  2. January 7, 2009 2:47 am

    So sorry for your losses in your greenhouses….what a winter!

  3. January 7, 2009 2:48 am

    I’m sorry Nita – it’s amazing how much damage snow and ice can do, your photos are evidence of that. Hopefully you will be able to save more than it appears right now.

    Trace is a beautiful dog……time goes by fast in people years too! A new pup would be great 🙂

  4. January 7, 2009 7:04 am

    Aren’t you glad you’re German? Look at all that potential kraut!

    Hey Nita, can I geek out on you for a minute? Did your round greenhouse (is it #3) fail too? Looking at your photos the high-sided greenhouses tumbled exactly where they’re the weakest: at the point where they’re bent. There was nothing to stop them from wanting to continue to bend downward. It might not have helped in this extreme instance of ice and snow, but out here in the snowbelt most of the greenhouses shaped like your two big ones also have collar ties every couple of members that connect the purlins together. (We get 70-100″ a winter of the white stuff here.) Anyway, it might be something to look into if you’re considering recycling the frames in some capacity or another. And I know you know a good blacksmith…

    Anyway, thank you for showing us. It’s still so very sad!

  5. January 7, 2009 9:00 am

    Nita you have a whole lot better attitude than I would have. Life goes on regardless but I really feel for you. Not only do you have a mess to clean up and decisions to make but it’s the hole in your heart that has me hurting for you.

  6. mtinnkeeper permalink
    January 7, 2009 9:22 am

    wow.. we’re blessed also by having a greenhouse here too.. what an amen! A great tour of yours. fortunately the snow seems to have melted enough (for the moment) to get in there again 🙂


  7. January 7, 2009 9:39 am

    Been a heck of winter, hasn’t it? I’m so sorry for all the loss, such a bugger. Glad to see what you could salvage, however.

  8. January 7, 2009 9:49 am

    Oh, Nita! That is just so sad! Just so, so sad! I too have the same way of handling things, just not look at them. I know they won’t go away, but if I don’t really see them I don’t have to…cry, work to fix them, get involved….I don’t know, just don’t look.

    My Daddy said I was poking my head the sand, eventually I had to look. He was right, but I have learned in ALMOST 60 years, by the time I look I can handle what it is I need to handle.

    Trace is a neat dog, really pretty. I enjoy coming here, and thank you for sharing your life with us.


  9. January 7, 2009 9:51 am

    Sorry for all the greenhouse damage. Darn snow! I wish I were there to help you fix it up!

  10. January 7, 2009 10:10 am

    I love braised cabbage, especially with lots of caraway & mustard seeds. Good eatin for sure!

  11. January 7, 2009 10:45 am

    What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger, so I suppose you must be really strong by now! :o)

    I do the same, pay no mind to something, internally wishing it would go away and then, finally, I deal with it. A lot of times I find it wasn’t so bad, but the ignoring part made it seem much worse than it was. Denial can be a tricky thing.

    I know you’ll salvage what you can, and nothing will go to waste. Chin up, better days are ahead. :o)

  12. January 7, 2009 11:31 am

    What’s next … locusts? I feel so bad for you. What will you do with all the unsalvageable greens? Too bad the little turkeys aren’t around to help clean up some of this. Will you compost a lot of this? Glad you’ll get some cabbage and springtime sprouts out of some of the plantings. I love a hash of cabbage, potatoes, onions, and sausage. Sending sunshine wishes your way … don’t overdue it when clean up starts. Only 73 more days ’til Spring.

  13. Claudia W. permalink
    January 7, 2009 7:48 pm

    I didn’t realize this, until I read a few of the comments here, but I do the same danged thing! I just didn’t realize that was what I am doing!
    I hope everything works out okay for you. With your keeping your head up about it all, I think things will get better for you and you will have it all improved upon by next winter for sure!
    Good luck to you.

  14. January 7, 2009 7:50 pm

    Oh my goodness! Pepper does the sitting on the couch thing, too! Her hiney will be on the couch, her front legs hanging off nearly to the floor – it’s hilarious!

    Is that just an Aussie thing?

  15. mangochild permalink
    January 8, 2009 2:38 am

    Oh, I’m so sorry! What sadness from winter storms… The kale though amazes me. I’ve always heard how strong it is, and this just provides the proof. And part of me thinks that kale is one of those things that provides proof that life continues, and there is often (though I admit not always) something to glean from a destruction. Hang strong.

  16. January 8, 2009 6:12 am

    Oh man… 😦 the greenhouses…

    It’s interesting you said Trace goes around inside looking for socks and such when it’s time to be let outside…my dog from years past did that, too, as well as the handle thing. It got to where we hung a bell on the door handle on the inside and he would go ring it to be let out. He never did the butt scootch half on half off thing, but he always had to be in physical contact in some way, or as close as possible (which was fine with me because he’d usually lean against my leg or have his paw or nose touching my shoe)

    I’ve been meaning to ask…do your dogs ever have to be crated or put into a run when you’re both gone? I’ve not had Aussies but we’re very interested in them. Just wondering if they have to have a lot of running room if we run to the store and have to leave the dog behind, or if they can be left in the house? We want an active working dog when it comes time to get another one, and are wondering what’s best as far as their housing for those times we’re not at home now and then.

  17. January 8, 2009 10:00 am

    What kind of pup is Trace? I have a tri-colored sheltie that is very similar… but not quite the same. 🙂 Is he a collie breed or a mix? Very nice looking dog.


  18. January 8, 2009 10:00 am

    Oh, perhaps I just read he’s an aussie? austrialian shepherd? they do have similar markings…

  19. January 8, 2009 11:18 am

    I’d happily help you eat some fresh cabbage! I just discovered a recipe last summer that I LOVE. Shred the cabbage, slice some cucumbers, and mix together. Then blend mayo with some fresh garlic, lime juice and chopped cilantro al gusto, viola! A yummy alternative to coleslaw…oh, I’m envious of your more temperate climes.

  20. January 8, 2009 6:23 pm

    Boy a closer look shows much more damage then I imagined. Wish we were closer to give you a hand!

  21. January 10, 2009 7:36 pm

    it makes my stomach churn looking at it. i hope you get some compensation for it.

  22. January 11, 2009 11:09 am

    oh no. 😦 so sorry!

  23. January 12, 2009 11:18 am

    Hello neighbor to the west. Sorry to hear about all the greenhouse damage. We grow lots of winter greens in North Idaho under row covers and have had a heck of a time keeping the snow off them this winter – 70+” so far… A few have collapsed under the weight of snow this year and last. I suppose that is all part of gardening in the middle of winter in the Pacific Northwest though. Good luck!!

  24. September 24, 2009 11:05 am

    Now you’ve done it! I am definitely putting up my “greenhouse” this year. I guess I ought to get off of here and go do it! What ml is your plastic? Our 6 ml gets so flaky from the sun that it doesn’t last a season. Is there a better one to use? My house will be much smaller. I’m hopefully using 3 leftover cattle panels (shouldn’t there always be leftover cattle panels?!), and I’m going to anchor them with Tpost. I’m just so envious (I say that a lot here) of your greens in the winter….my little hoops on my raised beds work well but they don’t provide enough heat into the hard winter months. I’d really like to have more growing in the winter and get my seeds going outside instead of indoors….I can never find enough room.

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