Recommitting to Paleo (the Butter Post)
Winter Garden Update

Fall-to-Winter Garden Update

Today is November 5th and tonight it's supposed to freeze. I am partially amazed that it's getting cold so soon this year, in spite of knowing that we are going through a solar cycle of reduced sunspot activity that will mean cooler temperatures for the next 10 years or so.

As soon as I found out about the upcoming freeze, I starting planning for my winter garden. Basically I want to save the plants that are currently growing, and see if I can continue to grow some veggies well into winter. So yesterday I took apart the bean trellis that I had created out of a modular tomato cage kit (I never did get any bean vines...the bunnies conspired against me and ate all the seedlings) and started building a small greenhouse structure around my two primary garden beds.

Ye olde bean trellis before the plague of bunnies.

The greenhouse framework takes shape.

It started raining so I went to Home Depot for some supplies and continued the rest of the construction today. I have to say that I had a blast building this thing! I felt like I was playing with tinker toys! I used zip ties and string to tie the structure together, and hammered the vertical supports into the ground for extra stability.


Once I was happy with the framework it was time to improve the soil. I decided to use a lasagna gardening method of layering all the amendments around the existing plants. I layered a bit of peat moss, diatomacious earth, steer and chicken manures, vermiculite, crushed eggshells and other kitchen scraps, and topped the whole thing off with leaves from the yard. I'll continue to add leaves, peat moss and kitchen scraps throughout the winter to help keep my plants cozy. By spring, I hope that I will have happy new soil to start with.

All tucked in for winter.

Next it was time to install the heat source. I decided to use a very simple, cheap and low tech source of heat: Indoor/outdoor C9 and C7 Christmas lights! They were easy to attach with zip ties, and should keep all the plants cozy and warm (not to mention festive).

As I was working I could feel the temperature dropping. My fingers got a bit stiff and it was getting harder to tighten the zip ties. Good thing I had a cozy hat and scarf to keep the rest of me warm!


See the zip ties sticking out of my pocket? 

I had just finished stringing the lights, and was about to start creating a nice little greenhouse by carefully and attractively arranging 4mil plastic sheeting around my framework, all the while getting fab photos of each stage, when nature said "F-you very kindly, but I don't think so." 

It started raining.

I got the lights hooked up to the electricity and hastily cut lengths of sheeting and draped them over the frameworks, anchoring the bottoms with rocks, all the while getting colder and wetter.


And then the rain turned to ice pellets.


I rushed around getting all the tools and leftover bits inside, and then I remembered my tomatoes! NOOOO! I couldn't let them freeze. So I went out and picked all the tomatoes off of the vine, ice pelting down all around me. I guess I'll try pickling the greenest tomatoes, and see if the others will ripen on the window sill.

Look at all these beauties:


All summer long I think I got 3 puny, sickly tomatoes. It was just too hot for them on the deck. Then fall came along and that tomato plant became lush and thick with fruit and blossoms.

Tomato plant on 11-1.

After a while the ice stopped and I came back out to get this picture:


It looks so cozy and fun in there that I wish I could shrink myself down and wander around. And yes, I know how weird that sounds. But it would be fun!

Tomorrow should be nice and sunny, so I will be able to finish the greenhouse properly. I want to attach the plastic to the framework, making sure it's all properly sloped for water runoff and make access panels that I can open to get at the veggies and for ventilation on nice days.

But now it's time to go start supper and spend the rest of the evening snuggled up in front of the fire.