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Tunnels in the Garden PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
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There are tunnels in the garden, but they are not from moles. We made them ourselves in a hope to keep some greens alive through the chilly weather. The garden is white, but not from snow.

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Row cover, tobacco canvas, and Reemay are names for the white, polyspun fabric covering the greens. We threw it over the plants to keep the frost off, and it provides a few degrees of protection against freezing. But this year we took it a step further.

Plastic conduit was cut into eight foot sections. A tamping bar punched holes a foot deep on either side of a row. One end of the conduit was inserted into the hole and the other end into the opposite hole, making an arch over the row. We put arches six feet apart down the row.

The row cover goes over the arches and is held down by boards, pots of compost, or the ever-handy rocks. I like the pots the best. One gallon plastic pots are light and you can carry a lot at once. Half full of compost gives them enough weight to keep the wind from blowing the cover off. They don’t freeze to the cover like boards and rocks do, and when we’re done with them the compost is simply dumped onto the gardens.

Kale, celery, arugula, and mizuna are still green in their tunnels, as everything outside freezes and dies. I left a cover directly on the parsley and swissclard, so the tunnel over them creates a second cover. This is all experimented, an opportunity to learn how to extend the season.

As snow flurries fell, we fell into a flurry of activity. A couple dozen bushels each of turnips and daiken radishes were harvested and are now stored in the root cellar. They are kept company there by a hundred bushels of sweet potatoes, 60 bushels of butternuts, and what’s left of the irish potatoes.

What do I need 50 bushels of turnips and radishes for? We are going to continue delivering vegetables to about 30 CSA members throughout the winter. They will still pay the same amount ($20.00) per weed as they did in the summer. There will be a lot less variety and quantity, but we hope to keep them happy.

Our customers get sad when we stop deliveries at Christmas time. No farm food until May is rough once you get used to it. The diehards who sign on for the winter CSA will help keep a little income flow for us during the off season, and get some special treats.

Spinach, for example, is planted late and comes on in March and April. By the first delivery at the end of May it’s already gone. Only the winter CSA will get spinach.

Another favorite delivery in early spring is the kale buds. They are just like small broccoli, sweet and tasty, but are long gone by May. We’ll send wild watercress, too, and maybe morel mushrooms if it’s a good year for them.

Garlic roots, squash and greens will keep going to town every week. I’ve never tried this before, but am excited to see if it can work. There is light at the end of the tunnel, or at least there are greens inside it.