Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Going Forward - Permaculture Leads the Way
I woke up this morning to a record cold 15º. All of our growing beds are covered with frost cloth however I know some things will have suffered some damage. It will be a couple of days before i will uncover to determine the extent of the damage. I know from experience that we will still have plenty of stuff to eat and maybe some things will be in good enough condition to take to market on Saturday.
In the mean time I was diddling around on the internet (i mean doing research) this morning watching videos on permaculture. In several of them people were growing vegetables in the ground in the winter in unheated greenhouses. It dawned on me right then that I should be doing the same. When we first moved here we repurposed an old sales tent from our garden center, turning it into a small greenhouse which we have been using to protect potted plants, grow some microgreens and to grow out vegetable starts for planting in the garden.
A few years ago I designed a passive solar greenhouse to replace the one we currently have. It would be tricked out with all kinds of features. It would cost a good bit on money to build too. I planned on getting that done one day.
Palm to the forehead time :) Go out to the greenhouse where it is warm and get to work preparing some beds and start growing now! You have every thing you need. Geez, why didn't I think of that before.
So that is what i did today! Woohoo! That sure beat sitting inside all day putzing around on twitter and facebook. Okay, I did a little of that too!. ADDICT! Well, the idea did sort of originate from a tweet i read this morning :-p
I started by pulling up the landscape fabric. Next I added some worm castings and other soil amendments and tilled those in. Then I used the broadfork to loosen up the subsoil. I started lining the beds with paving stones we had left over from various landscape jobs. The stones serve 2 functions: they allow me to add more amendments to the beds to raise them up higher and make them more fertile and they provide thermal mass that will capture the heat from the sun during the day and reradiate it at night which will keep the soil just a little warmer. Every little bit helps.
Next I will prepare the bed on the other side of the greenhouse the same way. I will install a paving stone path down the middle which will provide more thermal mass to retain and release heat.
I will still have plenty shelf space to continue using the greenhouse as i have been. In addition I will be able to grow and harvest fresh vegetables even in the coldest times of the year. I have pea tendrils growing in there now in flats and they have not been damaged at all by last night's record cold.
In a few days the space will be ready for planting. I inventoried my seeds yesterday and i have lots of cold tolerant varieties i can plant. I plan to make a seed mix, scatter it on the beds rake them in, water them and see who fares best.
I never expected to be planting at this time of year. It feels great!