Making My Own Gardening Weather
eason 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.
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.
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.
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… .
I added lime yesterday on top of the compost and cover crop, and then let ‘er rip.
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.