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Monday, April 4, 2011

Yet more spinach (not complaining though)

The overwintered spinach in the coldframe, is still producing  – 12 oz this time – in fact it’s about ready to produce a lot more soon.   Lettuce is not quite ready to pick, maybe in another week.  The coldframe is actually a plastic greenhouse called a Flowerhouse I put over a 4’x8’ raised bed.  I’ve been monitoring the temperature in the greenhouse bed with a remote temperature sensor shaded by a board in order to get a handle on the environment inside.  First, when the sun comes out the space heats up really FAST.  There are 4 zippered vents about a foot square each.  If the outside temperature is below 60 F on a sunny day they will keep the temperature in the low 70’s.  We’ve had a few sunny days recently with highs in the upper 70’s when it’s necessary to unzip the sides of the greenhouse and open it up, otherwise the air at ground level will get over 80 F. 

On an overcast day the greenhouse is 10-20 degrees warmer than the outside temperature.  Once the sun goes down the temperature inside quickly falls to the outside temperature.   During the winter I think the greenhouse warms the soil inside and that is a big benefit.   At this point with the hard freezes just about over it’s time to remove the greenhouse.  I was going to take it off this weekend but decided to wait until the storm system passed through today just in case we got some hail (we got a little, about ½ inch in size). 

On Friday I planted the second set of brassicas in their bed after hoeing in the compost.  If timing is everything I’ll need to work at this.  That evening we got a  brief strong storm with some hard gusts, then a hard freeze that night.  Saturday was cloudless and very windy, not good conditions for new plants.  I scattered straw around them to give some shade.  Sunday was even windier and the high was almost 80.  Looks like they made it. 
I set up a trellis for the sugar snap peas on one side of the brassica bed.  I like to use metal fence posts to support trellises and cages.  There are two kinds, one is solid metal and the other is a pressed metal.  I like the second, cheaper kind because it has hooks every few inches that can hold the trellis.  Once the hook is pressed shut with a pair of pliers the trellis is really secure.  For the pea trellis I used 6’ posts hammered into the soil up to the top of the flange, which leaves about 5' of post above ground.  Then I secured the trellis to some hooks in the post and also tied it to the post with wire.  Hammering the posts into the ground is not much trouble.  Removing them can be a little more challenging, but adding some water around the base usually helps to get them out.  I’ve gotten in the habit of suspending the trellis or cage above the ground so I can reach underneath it for maintenance.  The sugar snaps will have no trouble finding the first rung of the trellis. 

3 comments:

villager said...

Our overwintered spinach is going strong too. It's always tricky this time of year managing the temps in cold frames and greenhouses. It was over 80F here yesterday, with gusty winds. I guess our plants thought they were in the desert!

kitsapFG said...

It's truly amazing what a little passive solar can do for the earliest spring crops. It sounds like you have a good handle on how to manage your set up to avoid overheating. The trellis support looks very sturdy and ready for some climbing peas!

Daphne said...

More spinach is always good. I can't wait for my first harvest of spinach.

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