Gardening Year

Experiment: early sowing in the greenhouse

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The frozen soil cracks me up. There is nothing that I can do in my garden. No way to get through the frozen crust of the Earth and I can only dream about harvesting. I can’t even remove weeds from the beds, I have to put up with the fact that they will stay there until spring. The only thing which is left for me to do is to prowl around in the garden. Fortunately, during one of my walks I realized that although everything around is frozen, the greenhouse is already warm and comfy! A few days of sunshine were able to heat the air so that the soil is already warm and workable. I immediately took some fresh black compost and put it into the greenhouse to nourish the soil. (Btw I am really happy that the compost wasn’t frozen – proof that my whole composting setup is working well!)

compost

greenhouse_beds

Growing Veggies the whole Year through

Usually my greenhouse is used just a few weeks in the year as shelter for tomatoes and cucumbers. But I’ve read a lot about “year-round gardening” in the last weeks. Especially the book “The Year Round Veggie Gardener” written by Niki Jabbour was a great inspiration. By skillfully using different protective measures and choosing the right plants for her region, Niki was able to harvest fresh homegrown veggies the whole year around –even when there was a meter of snow cover.

Lets have an Experiment

Gripped by ambition I decided to grow some veggies this year as early as possible. That’s why today I took shovel, gloves and rake and sowed some seeds in my greenhouse.  Since I don’t have a thermometer in my greenhouse and can only estimate the temperatures in there and since I didn’t buy particularly hardy seeds, everything is kind of an experiment. I don’t know if it will be warm or bright enough for the seeds to germinate and I don’t know if the seedlings can handle the temperatures.

greenhouse_planning

Here are the Subjects

To at least have a fair chance that it will work out, I chose the most robust plants which could be sown in open soil as early as March. I think it is quite possible that they might grow a month earlier in the greenhouse. I chose

  • Kohlrabi Azur Star
  • Tragopodon porrifolius
  • Cabbage Red Express
  • Golden Beetroot
  • Parsnip White Gem
  • Lettuce Skipper
  • Oak leaf Cerbiatta
  • Carrot Jaune du Doubs
  • Carrot Cosmic Purple
  • Spinach Butterlay
  • Spinach Gamma and
  • Some radish variety

greenhouse_seedfurrow

All of these veggies go well together in a companion bed and will already be harvested when it is time for the tomatoes. To have a better overview at which time the different varieties will germinate and how they will grow in the winter, I divided the bed in several compartments. This way it is much easier to distinguish the seedlings from each other as they all look nearly the same in the very beginning.

Recycling tip: In Germany fireworks are kind of a big thing on New Year’s Eve. That is why we find a lot of sticks from the fireworks in our gardens after the change of the year. I recycled these sticks and cut them into smaller pieces onto which I attached the twine for the separating border lines.

Humid, warm and cozy

After seeding I moisturized the soil. Unfortunately our garden water is shut down due to frost so I had to use a tiny spray bottle. In a painstaking manner I sprayed the 4 m² of the greenhouse with ½ liter of warm water. I hope this was enough water for the seeds and I hope they will appreciate my effort. I can’t wait to put the drip tube back into service again…

greenhouse_organisation
greenhouse_organisation

Last but not least I covered the bed with a layer of straw so that the precious water wouldn’t evaporate immediately and the seeds will have it cozy and warm. Now it is really important to regularly check the bed for seedlings.  I immediately have to remove the straw from this part of the bed at that point otherwise the seedlings won’t get enough sunlight and will shoot up and become lean and weak. Also there is danger of mold formation under the straw cover.

straw cover
straw cover

What are your Experiences?

I am really curious how the seeds will do! Have you ever tried to grow something in winter season? How did it work? Were you able to expand the season?

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