Thursday, October 22, 2009

Autumn Garden

I am trying to extend my outdoor gardening season at least until the first of November this year. Doing so will mean that I have had nine months of continuous gardening out of doors.

In the area that I live in upstate New York the first frost of the season came in September, so I have gone well past what would have been possible without the greenhouse. I am using a small electric heating unit with the thermostat set at 45 degrees, however the heater is seldom on, as the greenhouse retains residual heat even on cloudy days. I really don't know if I can push my luck much past the beginning of November, and it would really not be worth it, as there would not be much growth with the short daylight hours and cool temperatures.

The photos above show my cool weather crops, chard, beets and lettuce growing in ebb and flow systems. I am using very little greenhouse space, however I expect that once I have a rotation going there is going to be enough lettuce for continuous table use. After all, you can only use so much lettuce.

The chard is Fordhook Giant, the beets are Early Wonder, and the lettuce is Burpee Bibb, Merlot and Waldman's Dark Green. Additionally, two varieties of romaine, Parris Island and Silva, have been started, as well as an Italian red lettuce called Antago . I intend to keep the progression going by starting a few lettuce seeds every few days.

The beets really seem to like the cool weather and the lower light levels of autumn. In researching them I found that they were called blood turnips until the late 19th century, and not really cultivated much before the 17th century. Although they were mentioned in some ancient texts, it is not known if they were being eaten at the time. We like them, as you get two vegetables in one plant by using both the beet and the greens.

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