I had hoped to have a litany of informative pictures in place to detail my mid fall planting, but the camera went on the fritz-another issue with being 10 miles from home. Without pictures to prove it, you wil have to take my word for it: I had a very productive afternoon!
Moving the Hoop House
Last Monday I finished prepping the beds, but there was still the little item of getting the house over said beds. I brought along my 5′ steel prybar and we rummaged around to find some “rollers” to help us out. The thought being we would lift up the greenhouse with the prybars, put some rollers under it and then push the Hoop House onto the prepared beds 25′ to the south. We found some old fence posts and got out a chain saw to hack them up into 6 18″ chunks. We also came across some planking which we put under the rollers to make it easier. The 5′ prybars made short work of the lifting with proper fulcrums and once on the rollers, the whole apparatus pushed quite well-the only exception being that we drifted East repeatedly on the uneven ground. Some redirection with the prybars and we had the house moved all 25′ in about 3o minutes-without using a tractor!
The owner had said he “might even have some seeds” when I proposed planting some winter greens. He wasn’t kidding! In 2005 the property had hosted a 25 family CSA-and it turns out that the left over seeds are all still there! One of the most beautiful things about CSA’s is the diversity of the produce, which is necessary to provide a half bushel of produce to each family-every week for 20 weeks. “Some seeds” turned out to be 2 5 gallon buckets of commercial size seed packets from Fed-Co Seeds. The CSA really drove the variety of cultivars-I found 5 varieties of spinach alone-many in 8-16oz packets. I think I could plant 3 acres in spinach alone! Between this stash, and E4’s bounty I am set for next year with the exception of dry beans, seed potatoes and some tomato varieties that I am finicky about. For a planting this late I set a strict limit of veggies that are harvest able from direct seed within 50 days. Given the short day factor of fall planting, I figure a 30% addition on that. This limited the planting to, well, about what Eliot Coleman recommends in Four Season Harvest. In the buckets I found (in addition to the spinach) mache, black radish, claytonia, bok choy, and arugula. Even these stalwart plants should have been in the ground 2-4 weeks ago, but I am giving it a go anyhow.
I have dreamed of what I could accomplish in time savings by stepping up to “commercial” grade tools. The owners had 3 Earthways hanging in the shed, with another 3 tied together to plant 3 rows simultaneously. I was excited to try it, but the reality completely blew me away. What an elegant tool!! Assuming you have a prepared bed, in one pass the seeder cuts a furrow, plants a seed to the spacing you have chosen in the planting wheel (10 sizes on site), fills in the furrow with the dragged chain, and then lightly tamps the soil over the seed with the rear wheel. Dear god is this easy!! Even planting 6 different varieties, I had both beds planted in 15 minutes. The tool is so simple and easy to push that my 5 year old literally seeded two rows himself. Wow, wow, WOW! These seeders are available new for $110 and if you plant more than a few beds it is worth every penny in time and back pain saved. I planted the beds with 3x the seed needed-with the low temps and 2-3 year old seed I want to hedge my bets.
I then soaked the beds thoroughly, and drenched the wood chip paths with the intent of getting a significant amount of moisture into the house before I close it up for the week-given the temps I am not worried about mold.
This week I would like to purchase a thermometer that will allow me to tract high and low temps to see how much benefit the hoop house is netting me, and help me to determine if/when I need to add the cold frames.
Fingers crossed that I get germination in week 1!