Monday, September 17, 2012

Planting the Winter Crops 2012

I took this scary picture with my cell phone when I went out to work in the Hoop House this morning.  That's what it looks like after a summer of almost total neglect.  The Swiss Chard was still going strong.  After the springtime planting and transplanting, I only watered it a few times, and not at all for weeks on end, but it never gave up.

So... first I had to clean up the mess!  During the summer months, it's simply too hot for me to work in there, and not much can grow, so I leave it for fall.  I plant in September.  Today was the day.  It was cooler and cloudy outside, so it's a perfect day for this annual project.

I cleaned out the planting bed and dispatched the enthusiastic weeds that volunteer on the floor.  I control weeds with newspapers, magazines and cardboard.  Not pretty, but free and it works for the most part. I discovered a tomato plant that had been left growing in there from when I was growing transplants.  The poor thing had never been watered since spring, but it survived and has several green tomatoes on it. I tied it up with twine and we'll see what happens!

 After cleaning everything up, I watered and leveled the beds.  When we first established these beds, we filled them with "Mel's Mix" that you can read about in THIS BOOK.  It is a mixture of equal parts of compost... (5 different kinds), peat moss and vermiculite.  Each year I've topped it up with more compost, but this year I used some well-rotted horse manure that my daughter gave me several months ago.

Then it was time to plant.  Here I have started planting little onion sets that I saved in the refrigerator from what I purchased in the spring this year:
I used plastic flatware for row markers, with the names of the seeds written with a Sharpie.  You can see them all down the side of the planting bed here:

 I planted the onion sets, mache (corn salad), Lacinto Kale, curly kale, Bright Lights Swiss Chard, two kinds of radishes, Italian dandelions, turnips, leaf lettuce and spicy greens.  Everything is planted in little rows except the dandelions and mache.  I broadcast them and used the palm of my hand to rub them down into the moist soil.

Here are a few more pictures so you can see my humble winter gardening place...

I've brought the planter of "hens and chickens" in to protect it through the winter:
Here are my "shelves" where I keep a variety of hand tools, twine, etc.:
I've got a flat all ready to start some wheat grass as soon as I get the wheat berries sprouted:
Various pots and the wire wickets leaning up against one of the side benches:
I store a few long tools under the other bench and you can see the bundle of floating row cover that will be used to go over wire wickets when the weather gets really cold.  That adds another layer of protection from wild swings in temperature which can be lethal to the crops.
And here's my little wind chime.  It's so pleasant to hear...
It's done for now.  I will go out every other day or so and water again, and keep that up until the weather gets quite cold.  Then I will close the door and the window and it will be all safe until spring.  If things go as usual, we will have lovely green things to eat all winter.

I hope you enjoyed the tour!  Incidentally, the same things can be grown in simple cold frames.  You certainly don't have to have a hoop house for this.

This post is linked to Traditional Tuesday.


  1. If we ever get to close on our new house it has a small greenhouse. something like 8x10 or so. They have delayed the closing 4 times now. Bummer

    1. I surely hope that all works out for you very very soon. It must be very frustrating and worrisome. You could do a lot in an 8 x 10 greenhouse!

  2. That looks really nice! I love your re-found tomato plant!

    1. Thank you! I am kind of excited about the tomato plant. Maybe it will actually work out a few weeks beyond what the ones outside can do. That would be really cool.

  3. Looks like is that time of the year. I also cleaned my balcony garden, this summer wasn't care as need. This morning got cleaned up and ready to enjoy the nice weather.

    Take care my friend.


    1. It was a difficult summer here too. Thank you and have a nice autumn. :)

  4. Did you originally purchase your compost? I've been looking around here & can't find any.

    1. Yes, the first year we did purchase the compost. It was not easy to find so many kinds. I think we ended up with 4, but Mel recommends 5. I ordered the vermiculite from a commercial local greenhouse, as they could get it at a nice price and got the peat moss at Wal-mart. If you ever want to do this, start calling around early to line up your supplies. Of course, there is no reason why one could not just plant in the ground in there. We did that originally.

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