Friday, April 5, 2013

Let the Gardening Begin

Lower Tunnel Modifications

Last year was my first year with the poly-tunnel gardening system. It is suppose to extend your growing season by two weeks on either side of your normal season. Last year, however, when I began the gardening experiment 224 for the high county I started with just the low tunnel on the first of May. Mid May I built the high tunnel so I could expand my plantings. And by June I was experimenting with plants late frosts had always prevented me from enjoying.

One of our latest frosts I can remember was June 21st. It decimated the carefully tended squash plants I had nurtured in my studio until the date of the previous late frost (June 8) had pasted. The double tunnels foiled the late frosts. And in July in protected the garden, which was lush and productive, from inch sized hail. But by the time fall frosts came it was clear my low tunnel was too low for the thriving Swiss Chard, Kale, and several of my herbs. So my goal for this season was to raise the inner tunnel a bit and to add more containers for squash and tomatoes, and to begin planting by April 1st.

Okay, that would have been stretching my season by 4 weeks in front. And sporadic winter storms has shown the folly of that goal which I have now changed to the 15th. And I want a drip irrigation system so watering can be automatic on a timer. Today is suppose to reach the low 60's and so the drip watering will get installed and the planting of lettuce and other cool weather seeds like beets and carrots. Then cover the low tunnel.

I want to develop another inner tunnel to protect tomatoes and squash at the far end where I extended the tunnel by one rib last fall. It is easier to work on such things without the plastic on the high tunnel. I am also still playing around with containers. The two square ones in the middle of my primary raised beds are theoretically for strawberries. I got the concept of stacking containers from an article on African gardening. And I added the low raised bed between the two higher ones for beets and more onions. I am still undecided about potatoes this year. At least under the tunnel. They took up so much room. I have added the beets and I want more carrots. They are crops that I found out on the internet can extend into winter. And a second planting of them can be done in late summer. I never was able to get a second planting of anything but lettuce due to my short growing season.

BTW the green you see in the photo are herbs that wintered over this year with just a sheet of plastic laid on the low beds. Chives, Italian and curly parsley and Greek oregano made it through for the first time in years. So also more garden space allotted to herbs this year.

Another thing to begin this year is a garden journal. I have plenty of blank books to draft into this role. Then I will not have to remember over the long months of winter what worked and what didn't in the gardening season before.

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