Now that we’ve had a week or so of temperatures dropping below freezing overnight, we’ve had enough time to see how the mini-hoop house experiment would pan out. The idea behind building a hoop house within a hoop house was completely theoretical–we hadn’t seen it done elsewhere and had no idea whether it would work at all.
We started our seeds in trays in the main hoop house before the temperatures were too cold. Once the seedlings were big enough to transplant, we moved them over to the raised beds that had previously been home to the tomatoes and hot peppers. We moved our thermometer into one of the minis to determine whether we were actually getting additional heat captured through this added layer of polyethylene. As luck would have it, the temperature (on sunny days, mind you) inside the minis was hovering right around 80 degrees!
Due to the shorter days, progress has been slow. We went about a week without any sunlight to speak of and that definitely made it seem like the greens would never take off. The past several days have been sunny, however, and that has made all the difference. This morning, our two kinds of kale, mustard greens, lettuce, and spinach were all thriving beautifully.
Of course, the outdoor critters love warmth as well. One of our kale beds was discovered by something and we lost about four of our plants. We’re hoping that Randy, the barn cat, will take care of that particular problem, but in the meantime, the rest of the plants continue to grow.
As we prepare for our first-ever Meet-the-Farmer dinner at applewood on Tuesday, December 11th, we are hopeful that some of these veggies might just be ready to pick! In this spirit of hopefulness, we checked on the progress of our purple-top turnips which are growing in the one outdoor mini (the only one that is in the garden). We were very excited to see that they looked incredibly robust.
With turnip greens that big and lush, we figured we only had about a week or so before the turnips below the surface would be ready to pick. Not able to deal with the suspense, we pulled one to see where the turnips were in the growing process.
Oddly enough, we found that there was no evidence of any turnip at all under the ground!
These beautiful greens are seemingly offering up only themselves. We now know that the limited amount of sunlight encouraged the plants to put all their energy into producing greens without enough left over for the root!
What we know for sure is that we’ve got some delicious turnip greens for the Meet-the-Farmer dinner next month!