Tuesday, August 23, 2005

We'll see how those row covers worked...

It got down to 30 degrees here last night! And it's still August! The cars were covered in frost this morning. I had covered up all of the tomato beds that had hoops on them already, but I didn't think it would really frost. Then Russ got up at about 1 AM and covered everything else...ya gotta love that in a spouse! I think the tomatoes in hoop houses should be okay, but I'll have to assess everything else tonight when I get home. Just when I've got gazillions of green tomatoes on the brink of starting to ripen (I hope, it's about time!) we get this weather. But I shouldn't be surprised; the same thing happened last year even earlier in August, but that was followed by about a month of mild weather.

I'm definitely doing all of my tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant in raised beds with row covers next year. The row covers are really simple to make; just take a length of 3/4 inch PVC pipe (10 feet, I think) and bend it over the bed, and fasten in place with screw-in conduit holders (sorry I don't know all of the correct names for hardware!) I use 4 of them for each 8 foot bed. The covering material is just construction grade plastic for now; I might look into permeable materials for next year.

I've noticed it also helps if you break the rules about spacing tomatoes (18 inches-2 feet apart) and plant them closer together. I plant eight plants per 8 x 4 raised bed. The dense leaf growth traps in heat and the plants insulate each other somewhat.

One of my goals for the garden is to try and incorporate some of Eliot Coleman's harvest-extending techniques, and develop solutions, like the spacing and row covers, that are uniquely suited to this climate. I also want to experiment with different open pollinated tomato varieties and see which ones are best suited for this type of growing season. So far, Stupice is my best performing tomato, although I'm eagerly awaiting the Pruden's Purple, which should be ripe some time this week.

I planted more lettuce, kale, spinach, arugula, Chinese cabbage, orach, and corn salad in the onion and carrot bed I cleared on Sunday. Hopefully, with some frost protection, that will provide fresh greens at least through early November.


the dharma bum said...

Deb - I'm not much a gardener, but I sure do love your posts about raising veggies. You put so much thought into all of it, and it's neat to hear how various experiments go. It kind of reminds me of fly-fishing in ways, one of those hobbies that demands constant creativity, thought, study, etc. Except I put all my fish back and, much to the occasional chagrin of the other half of my household, a day fishing provides nothing but memories and a few photos, no food on the table.

Floridacracker said...

Send Frost quickly, 7:00pm right now and it's 88 degrees outside.