Saturday, March 24, 2012

Productive day today. We finally got some cloud cover, so we decided to transplant tomatoes into the other three beds in greenhouse 2. Pop had a patient this morning, so I made up customer orders and then laid down plastic mulch on the last bed (we got the other two yesterday).

Troy made us a transplant rack for the garden cart so we can carry 18 flats at once instead of only six. So after lunch we loaded it up with 180 tomato transplants (two beds worth).

Pop also wanted to get a couple of beds of spinach planted outside, so after the first two beds he went to load up more tomatoes and I raked and rolled a couple of beds outside.

Of course by that time it had cleared up and was blazingly sunny and the tomatoes weren't too happy, so we left the last 90 in flats to transplant after supper.

They did perk up nicely—after supper I couldn't even tell which one had been so wilted.

The seeder was being a bit cranky, but I rubbed the dust off the belt and sprayed a little belt dressing on it and it was OK. While Pop was planting those two beds to spinach I took some other pictures.

Four days ago I had planted lettuce under the quick-hoops to the left in that last photo. It was getting a bit dry so we had turned the sprinklers on for half an hour or so. Last night was chilly, so we had pulled the plastic over the row cover. With it turning sunny and the plastic still on it's about 90 degrees in there so all the moisture was evaporating.

You might also just barely be able to see that the lettuce is coming up already. I took a close-up but the focus was a little off.

Maybe it's something about taking pictures in the heat under the plastic that's throwing the camera's auto-focus off? I think it's infrared based. And the picture I took of the carrots that overwintered under another set of quick-hoops is also blurry.

Those were planted in late July last year, I think. But Pop planted them just before a rainstorm so he didn't get sprinklers out. Then it turned hot and dry and we still didn't get sprinklers out, so the germination was terrible, so we just wrote them off and let them get buried in chickweed, so they didn't grow much at all.

But there is some spinach in the bed next to them, so when hard frost hit in the fall, we got hoops and row cover and plastic over them. So they survived the whole winter, and a few days ago we opened it up and weeded the whole thing. The roots are a little less than a quarter-inch in diameter and three to six inches long, so I imagine we'll have carrots in another six weeks or so.

I also took pictures of our extended quick-hoops experiment. The quick-hoops are made half-inch EMT, which is cheap (about $2/piece) and sturdy enough to stand up to heavy snow loads (the winter before last they were buried so deep you could barely tell they were there). But it only comes in 10-foot pieces. So you get a hoop that is only about 30 inches tall once you push it into the ground. Which is really not high enough to work in (although I've done it).

So last fall Pop had the bright idea of cutting some ground posts out of three-quarter inch EMT (which just fits over the half-inch) to make them taller. So we cut 15-inch extensions and crimped them slightly to stop the hoop from sliding all the way down in, and set one up over a couple of spinach beds to see if it would stand up to the wind and snow load. Not much of a test this winter, but it came through just fine.

Spinach does just fine down to quite low temperatures as long as it's in a protected microclimate and doesn't get banged around by wind or whatever while it's frozen. IIRC we got a couple of nights down around 20 below this winter, and the spinach is pretty much fine. You can see a few leaves are frost-burned a bit around the edges, but other than that it's in great shape.

Actually this is doing better than the spinach which overwintered in the unheated greenhouse. With the bigger soil mass in the greenhouse the spinach kept going well into December and so it's starting to run out of nutrients. Pop sprayed it all with fish so we'll see if it bounces back a bit. But we're also getting some cladosporium—you can see the little brown speckles—so it may not be able to shake that off.

To the right there are two beds of lettuce just coming up and half a bed of mustard. In the next couple of days sometime I'll do another planting in the other half of that bed and the two edge beds on the left.

Also I made a nice bit of progress on the experimental literate programming tool I'm writing. And I'm finally getting a handle on the Mancini sonata that Carol brought over last week. So altogether a very productive day.