It seems this winter has been very warm. So warm, in fact, that I have been a little skeptical whether or not everyone’s fruit trees will set fruit , or if my broccoli will button from a late freeze. So warm, in fact, that I decided to try a little early outdoor planting of some heartier spring crops like spinach and snap peas to get a head start on the year in my own garden. More on that later.
The Student Farm at CCCC is currently less busy on harvesting, as there isn’t a whole lot to harvest this time of year, and more busy preparing for spring planting.
Hoop House A is bustin’ with greens! Spinach, Collards, and Swiss Chard make a delicious braising combo.
Hoop House A is busting with greens, and the kale is starting to bolt from the heat, believe it or not! That’s okay, kale flowers are one of my favorite snacks. You really should try some this year if you never have. They also attract beneficial insects like pollinators and predatory wasps that kill those nasty aphids.
Beautiful, colorful salad mix in Hoop House South
Hoop House South is growing some beautiful salad mix coming up that is almost ready to harvest.
Peas trellised and planted; irrigation installed
In Block One, where the winter brassica crops (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, etc.) were planted, are now prepared, bare beds full of potential, and in one of those beds we have peas planted and trellised. Down on Block 7 the students have been diligent preparing the potato beds.
In the propagation greenhouse, the new brassica transplants for the big spring planting are not quite ready to set out just yet, and need a couple weeks longer. They are currently spending some of the day outside in the cold frame on warm days to get them hardened off.
Advanced Crop Production Teacher Cheryl McNeil instructing on the finer techniques of using bed-building hoes
Baby broccoli in the Propagation Greenhouse
There are plans in the works for some new polycarbonate sheeting on the propagation greenhouse to replace the dull sheets that were installed 18 years ago. Along with fresh plastic will be a few other innovations to improve ventilation, to be announced in a future entry.
Like I stated before, and as you’ve probably noticed, it’s been unseasonably warm this winter. It doesn’t look like we’ll really get a winter, since Sir Walter Wally saw his shadow. In my own garden in Hillsborough, I decided to bet against the cold ahead of Ol’ Wally and plant a 30-foot row of peas as well as some spinach in mid January. I know, you probably think I’m crazy. Don’t worry, I think so, too. And sometimes, crazy can pay off. Sometimes, taking a risk can lead to big rewards. And for me, at least this time, it looks like I might come out on top. Not trying to, “count my chickens,” but I’ve already got sugar snap peas peaking 2″-3″ out of the ground, and my spinach is over an inch tall, with some true leaves. I’ve only covered them one night in the three weeks they’ve been in the ground. Is there really something to this climate change thing, or is it just freak weather? I’m thinking the former.
Spinach seedlings in my garden right now, planted mid January
Sugar snaps already 3 inches tall
For further reading on climate change, check out what NASA has to say about it, if you believe them:
-Josh Calhoun, Advanced Crop Production Class