Sunday, March 6, 2016


The weather has finally turned for the better, with temperatures more typical of mid-April predicted for the next 10 days.  The window for any more winter-like weather is rapidly closing.  I moved up the timetable a week for seeding cole crops.  It's been a somewhat mild winter and the soil never froze to any depth and is rapidly warming. 

Today's temperatures are in the 50's and I realized that I should get outside and get to work.  The first task was spading up the sweet potato/squash bed.  The soil was just the right wetness for turning over, although part of the bed still does not have enough organic content, something I'm working on.  It took 3 goes to finish the spading.  It's hard work.   Tomorrow I hope to break up the clods a bit with the mini-tiller.  Then I'll seed it with field peas and oats for a cover crop, then cover the seeds with a layer of half-finished compost.

The cover crop will hold until the squash and sweet potatoes go in 10-12 weeks from now, and the peas should fix some nitrogen in the soil.  Guess what I found while spading where the potatoes grew last year?  That's right, I missed quite a few potatoes.  I thought I was thorough, but no.  These are Kennebecs.  They may even be fine for eating, even though some have been sliced by the shovel.  I'll find out.

The next task was wheeling the 'mobile cold frame' out to its spot, washing the double wall plastic glazing, and setting the paving stones inside.

Tomorrow I'll put the tray of onions in the cold frame, then fill an Earthbox with potting mix and set that inside too.  There's 12 cells of lettuce growing under the lights and they will be ready to go into the Earthbox very soon.  I like to get cold tolerant seedlings out to the cold frame quickly, as natural light is much better than artificial, and this also frees up space under the flourescent lamps so I never need additional light units.

The cement pavers in the cold frame soak up solar energy and retain the heat overnight.  The Reflectix insulation, which is like silvered bubble wrap, helps insulate the space and reflects light onto the plants.  It's also underneath the floor.  I have to be careful to keep the window propped open on sunny days, as the temperatures inside can exceed 100 F if the window is kept closed.

The next task was turning the most recent compost over into new modules.  About half of the compost was shoveled over into the stack of modules on the right.   The poop from two rabbits mixed with some pine shavings can make a lot of compost.  I'll use the not quite finished compost from the bin on the left to cover the field peas and oats, enough to protect them until they germinate.  I'm hoping the pile will get hot again with the warm weather, and some finished compost will be available in a month or two.

The final task - removing the plastic greenhouse that covered the overwintered spinach.  It's certainly warm enough to remove the protection, and the spinach will grow better in unfiltered sunlight.  The greenhouse not only protected the spinach, it sheltered lots of weeds too.  I believe that's ground ivy, and it's flowering. 

It's a good start.  Tomorrow I'll seed the cover crop, and pick up countertops for the kitchen.

1 comment:

Mark Willis said...

Good to see you back in action! Our weather is still pretty wintery, and the sunshine when is appears is very "thin". Not yet time for much sowing and planting, I fear. I like the idea of the paving stones used as storage heaters. I have seen this done with bottles of water, which act on the same principle.

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