A little bit of snow on the frost blankets

It got below freezing last night in our garden. Snow flakes were caught on the frost blankets and tarp we used to cover the arugula, beets, kale, and lettuce mix with last night. The greenhouses did their job. We made it through with minimal casualties.

Both greenhouses were effective and prevented young plants from freezing. The wooden/metal greenhouse has leaf matter and compost piled up around the bottom which insulates the structure very well. We watered the insulation and the plants inside to help maintain heat as water is a heat sink. I piled all the empty barrels, bags of leaf and buckets around the hoop greenhouse as a last minute insulation improvment. It seemed to work as nothing appeared to be frozen. Everything inside looks very green and happy.

I picked off a couple small sugar snap peas that were frozen on the inside. I split them open and saw clean white frost inside. It was quite beautiful. The pea plants that were alive all still seem to be. Growth will be slower in the cooler temperatures but production will continue.

Tonight it will not get as cold, and the sun seems to be shining in full force. The same precautions will be taken to protect the plant babies.

Greenhouse and Cool Season Planting

We’ve been busy in the yard all week moving things around with the changing of the season. We are preparing to have a lot more mushrooms growing indoors and heavily encouraged by the ascetically pleasing fruits that are being picked today as they mature. The greenhouse is operational, sprouting seedlings and busy with bees. We are enthusiastic to see what happens during our first winter growing season.

Tuesday, November 13 was clean up day. All the summer crops froze off from the night before that got into the 20’s. We harvested all the fruits that we could from our pepper plants (Corno di Toro Roso, Tequilla Sunrise, Banana, Bell, and Caliwonder), eggplants, cherry and large heirloom tomatoes, and the tomatillos. The green matter is added to our compost heap.

We pasteurized mushroom substrate. We placed a mixture of straw, cottonseed hulls, and gypsum into burlap sacks. We then filled a 55 gallon drum with water and submerged the tightly packed bundles. Then we heated the mixture to 160° by building a fire underneath the drum and carefully monitoring the temperature. After a set amount of time the water is drained and the sacks are allowed to cool. We then inoculate the substrate by firmly filling hole-drilled 5 gallon buckets with substrate and mushroom grain spawn. The buckets then sit at room temperature in plastic bags that hold moisture until the buckets are fully inoculated.

Our greenhouse soil is populated by healthy earthworms and amended with composted horse manure and Medina chicken manure pellets. The greenhouse is built around a tomato plant and we transplanted 14 more plants on the North side. We aren’t expecting too much because tomatoes require more hours of sun than we have. It is an experiment to see what happens, if it fails we have more green-manure to compost. Our drip irrigation was stung throughout. Wooden planks and bricks were set for harvesting and tending needs. We began planting the greenhouse with Laurentian Rutabaga, Chiogga Beet, Dill weed, Ragged Jack Kale, Dwarf Siberian Kale and Cilantro transplants. Then we began seeding with Laurentain Rutabaga, Chiogga Beets, Bright Lights Swiss Chard, Arugula, Yellow Strawberry, Super Red Cabbage, White Denali Cauliflower, Dillweed, Cha-Cha Winter Squash, Cucumbers, All-Star Loose Leaf Lettuce Mix, Oregano, Mustard, and Sugar Ann Snap Peas. Our philosophy might be to try everything we can and take note of what worked well and what didn’t.

This week has be wonderfully warm. To prevent our fresh plants from over heating, during the day the South bottom of the greenhouse plastic is clipped back and the door is opened for circulation. This also allows for natural pollination and insect controls to occur from beneficial insects.

We are glad to recycle our old plants into soil (compost) and ready to start acquiring the hands on knowledge of new vegetable species and change our diet with the season.

Frame and Hoops

The greenhouse frame is ready to be covered.

Greenhouse Construction

This Greenhouse is being built in a location that can utilize the sunlight. It’s being built with durable materials so that it may be taken down and reused.

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween, eat local leafy greens to counter the mass produced processed candy you might indulge in this week.

Yesterday as the moon began decreasing in fullness and entered into the third phase under a water sign, we planted Red Ace Beets with Dwarf Siberian Kale as companions, more Sugar Snap Peas under a trellis, and a fresh seed crop of All-Star Lettuce (includes Green Oakleaf, Red Oakleaf, Green Romaine, Red Romaine, Lollo Rossa, and Redleaf) to endure our Texas winter. We added more drip lines to insure even saturation which is very important to prevent seedlings from drying out.

The Sugar Snap Peas are producing pods, and we have large green tomatoes I am waiting to see ripen. The tomatillos are abundant. Cucumbers fruits are appearing. Peppers are growing large and ripening with color.

This Saturday we will have All-Star Lettuce, and a 13 seed blend of micro-greens for certain.

Peas on the Way

I noticed the first flower on the sugar snap peas and many other buds. It won’t be long until we will be picking and eating them.

We have cleared out and amended (with compost, rock dust, and Medina Growing Green organic granular fertilizer) plenty of growing space (~75 ft. x 4ft.). We have pulled out our most mature Anaheim pepper plants, okra patch, and the jalapeno plants. Theses plants have been growing since the spring and had stems like tree trunks. To replace these heavily producing plants we have Round Red Beets, Denali cauliflower, red cabbage, multicolor swiss chard, carrots, peas, lettuce, arugula, kale, onion, and other seeds to try. It seems as though the most difficult growing season is summer for our climate. With our research, will be using some gardening tricks to produce healthy vegetables through the winter.

Harvest Friday, Market Saturday

Harvested this evening; bell, jalapeno, anaheim, banana peppers, arugula, okra, three micro green varieties, two squash, three eggplant, a few green beans, and a couple tomatillos. We expect larger returns in the coming weeks. Get it 9-sell out, Saturday, Carroll Blvd. and Mulberry.

Mushroom Prepwork

What a lovely Tuesday to be outside or to roll the windows down. We have been researching and gathering supplies to cultivate mushrooms. Tending to our wide variety of micro greens and keeping the newly planted seeds happy.

Matt has been researching and accumulating the items needed to start our mushroom grow operation. Although we have a lot of trial and error going on, we find it very important to thoroughly research so that we will only buy the correct things once, and to prevent hazards. Today we obtained our substrate sterilization barrel (a recycled orange-juice drum),  grow containers (buckets), and the supplies to build an air filtration box (air filters and lumber). The mushroom spawn should be arriving this week and we will be ready for it. We have learned that the mushrooms we are going to try first (Oyster) does not have a very long shelf life and this is why it is not often seen in grocery stores. We chose these mushrooms to start with because they are prolific and are good for beginners. Once we get a feel of it we will attempt different strains.

We are still experimenting with micro greens by trying different seeds and methods. We currently have a batch of alfalfa, mustard, a spicy mix (radish, arugula & cress), and a special 13 seed blend specifically for micro greens from sprout people. For the first 3 days we keep them in the dark with lids on them to hold the moisture and pressure so that the seeds will feel that they are in soil. Today we took them out of the dark and placed them outside.The seeds are surface sown in trays with about an inch of soil, because the soil is shallow it is prone to being dried out quickly and we mist them 3 times a day.

The seedlings planted yesterday are not to dry out either, so watering is very important until the sprouts are visible. We soaked them twice today.

We also have some tomato plants that are getting too large to stand up on their own so we put cages around them to hold them up. It’s important to keep a watchful eye over the garden every day so that pests or weeds or plants getting too large can be helped before things are difficult to get under control.

We are looking forward to getting hands-on experience with mushroom cultivation, refining our micro green methods and watching our new crops grow. We hope that all are taking advantage of the temperate climate and we would love it to stay awhile.

Sow in Balance

It was a great day to plant and today we sowed Bok Choy (which I also have planted in a pot on my window-sill for just-picked fresh lettuce), Siberian Kale, Chioggia Beet, Cylindra Beet, a few Celery and three Swiss Chard (all that was left in the seed packet).

If planting by the moon was an absolute, above ground crops are recommended in the phase following the new moon up until the full moon. We are 4% in the waxing phase and the moon sign is in Libra, the balance scale. This is the optimum moon sign for planting flowers and is representative of attractiveness. So we hope to get beautiful crops with positive influences.