So after receiving about 18 inches of snow, including drifts, my row cover is holding up great! The steep slope of the sides combined with the strength of the joints as a result of the tees, elbows, etc, are letting it stand up VERY well to the heavy, wet snow and ice. Even without welding the joints the whole structure is still solid. I think part of the reason for it is that the snow is keeping the plastic taught and the tension is helping to keep the joints together.
Of course, because of the snow and ice in front of the ends, it's too much of a pain right now to open the plastic to see how everything is doing underneath. I actually haven't checked it again since I found everything frozen solid after the wind ripped through here a couple of weeks ago and lifted off the plastic cover. For all I know everything under there might already be dead. I'll try to post some pics soon before all the snow melts so you can all see. I'll post a couple more of the inside as soon as I can, too.
Well, the wind storm that blew through here Saturday lifted the plastic tent off of my cold frame on a day when the temps were in the twenties. When I went out there everything was frozen solid. I pulled some leaves and put them in my mouth. They were sweet, delicious, green, lettucicles! I watered everything and put the plastic back on, but I haven't had the heart to check it again since. I hate to think that I'll get no greens after all that. The problem was that I didn't secure the plastic well enough. I had trimmed the plastic too close to the sides of the garden bed and didn't leave enough extra for the rocks to hold down. And I didn't want to staple the plastic to the wood sides, so the wind came, and the plastic went. :-( Oh well. Lesson learned for the upcoming spring. I'd post pictures, but it doesn't look that much different than the last set of pics. Well, the outside looks a lot different today as we got a few inches of snow yesterday and today. I am happy to say that the pvc frame is supporting the plastic with the snow's weight very nicely. So that's good.
On the experimental produce seeds front, here is an update on those.
My dragonfruit plants are getting rampant. I need to thin and prune them.
My passionfruit plants are doing awesome! I've had to prune them back when I repotted them. I put some bamboo hoops into the pots so I could train the vines onto them. They had started to grow up onto and into the curtains, and those tendrils didn't want to let go, let me tell you.
My first date palm's leaves have started to split into the classic leaf form for them with the more feather-like leaves instead of the simple single leaves. And my other half dozen other younger seedlings are doing well also.
I planted 4-6 rhambutan seeds, but they all rotted. Next time I'll
try giving them a quick soak in either a mild bleach solution or
I planted 9 longan berry seeds. 7 germinated. One I killed by placing it too close to the cold window sill. And one I think the cat ate, but he's not admitting it. 5 are still going gangbusters strong under the grow light, with several sets of true leaves. They are pretty interesting looking. I'll have some new pics soon.
And of the 60 or so pomegranate seeds I planted in a flat, I have about 35 seedlings! Not too bad, really. Those are the ones I'm REALLY excited about! I LOVE pomegranates. I'm hoping, well fantasizing really, to get at least one good mutant. I want one with fruit that is easier to peel. Or one with seeds that separate easier from the pith. Or one with softer seeds so you can enjoy eating all the little juicy gems. (I usually eat them anyway, but it would be nice if the seeds could just be chewed and still taste good, like in a kiwi.) Or one whose pith between the seeds and rind aren't bitter so you can eat the whole thing like an apple. I'm only half kidding. I'd settle for eating it like an orange. lol I'll be posting some additional pics of these soon, too.
My dad shared pomegranates with my brother and me when we were growing up. Of course, when we were young he would peel them and take out all the seeds for us. That was the life! He would spend what seemed like an hour picking out each little jewel and putting them into cups for us. And my brother and I would be after him like crack addicts for them as soon as he got a little pile done. Of course, he'd try to be firm and make us wait until he had a whole cupful, but he was a softy. Looking back, I think that the waiting made them taste just that much better. You know you're loved when someone peels a whole pomegranate just for you! My brother, who also loves pomegranates and probably for the same reason, is excited about getting his own tree, too.
Wow, it's been over a month since I last posted. Time flies.
Anyway, I took some pictures last week of my plants under the row cover and posted them in my profile's photo section. Check them out if you're interested. They are still going strong after some nights in the twenties. :-) In case you're wondering about the bricks, they store heat during the day and give it back during the night. This helps to moderate the temperatures in there. Last year I used more bricks, but I would up using some this year for a border.
I'll be harvesting some soon and will post some more pictures.
Wow, it's been almost two weeks since my last post. Time flies when you're having fun. I think I mentioned that I love the fall; it's my favorite time in the garden.
Before I start with what I wanted to enjoy talking about, I would like to apologize to the several folks that have not received the seeds they requested for the sunflower and the datura. My white and yellow datura seeds got mixed together on the kitchen table while I was sorting and packaging them up, so I wanted to wait until I got another batch of each so I could be sure of what I was sending folks. And I quite honestly just haven't gotten around to pulling all of the seeds off of the sunflower head and mailing them out. Sorry all. Please rest assured that this was not some elaborate scam to get 41 cents from you all. I'll get them all out to you before Spring - I promise!
Now that I've gotten that out of the way, on to fun stuff....
Early this week, Monday (Oct.15th) I cleared out the bed in which I'd grown my corn and over which I had let my pumpkin vines ramble. I turned over the soil, raked it smooth and picked out more rocks that always seem to come to the surface from the center of the earth, just north of he11. I then put down four rows of different lettuces: butter crunch, salad bowl, mesclun mix, and something else the name of which I can't recall now. I also put down seeds for some baby bok choy and a few large head cabbages. We have had a warm snap here in the Northeast. It's the remnants of all that terrible weather that spawned tornadoes in the midsouth and midwest this week. It's positively balmy here now - 70+ today, 75-80 tomorrow. That's pretty nice for the middle of October. As a result, all of the seeds have already sprouted!
What's that you say? I'm crazy to be starting lettuce, bok choy and cabbages in the middle of October? Well, crazy like a fox, maybe, because over the bed I've also set up my rowcover/mini-greenhouse frame that I designed and built out of PVC . I've posted pics in my album, "Garden and Row Cover".
I enjoyed reading two books that gave me ideas about what I wanted for my garden. The first is The 12-Month Gardener: Simple Strategies for Extending Your Growing Season by Jeff Ashton. He discusses several ways of extending the growing season starting out with very simple and very inexpensive floating row covers, all the way through to building your own permanent greenhouses complete with electricity and automatic venting and fans. The second book that I also recommend is Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long by Eliot Coleman. Both of these together gave me enough information to understand the requirements of being able to extend my growing season, choose appropriate crops, and design and build something that was genuinely my own.
I haven't had to cover it in plastic yet because it's been so warm; I'll do that next week, probably. I'll be happy to post a material list and layout if anyone is interested. It was real easy. It uses more PVC than the standard half-hoop row covers made by just pushing the two ends of a length of PVC pipe into the ground, but it not only looks MUCH nicer, but is also MUCH stronger. I think you'll agree. This is my third year extending the season this way. Last year my nephew helped me harvest three shopping bags full of lettuces and other greens for salads well into December. One of the coolest things about my frame is that I designed it to be expandable. it starts out being sort of triangular in cross section, but you can screw in legs of whatever length you desire to raise the height if you want to make it look more like a "house". Maybe I'll swap out the short feet with the long feet and a post a pic of that, too, so you can what I mean about the design.
Right now all of the parts are just held together by friction. At some point I'm going to be cementing many of the parts together, not only to make it stronger, but to make set up even easier. I don't want to cement everything together because then I wouldn't be able to take it apart. Currently I can break it down in 15 minutes and store all the parts in a box about 6" x 6" x 46" and it's out of the way during the summer when I don't need it, and I don't have these 10' obnoxiously long PVC pipes laying around. I don't want that to change.
This year my son will be old enough to help me harvest the greens. He's like me - we both love a good salad with some blue cheese dressing. Mmmmmmm.....
Oh, and a boxwood update - I have it home. A picture of that is coming soon, too.