October 2012 Update


Bright yellow maple tree leaves covering the groundI really dislike being cold. I can handle extreme heat, rain, dark, manual labor and constantly having my hands in compost. But I really dislike the cold. Since it has been chilly and rainy here the last several weeks, I’ve been pretty lethargic about working in the garden. It’s driving home the point that I need to be sure to develop efficient systems for winter gardening so that I’m not intimidated by keeping up my garden chores when that dirty four-letter s-word starts rolling in…

As much as I really dislike being cold (have I mentioned that yet?) I have managed to drag myself outside several days and accomplish some goals. (And thankfully we’ve also had a few sunny days in the midst of all this rain!) Here’s a quick update on what’s happening at Arcadia Farms this October.

  • Planted veggies for spring harvest. This year I’m experimenting with overwintering a few crops. As I mentioned in this post, I’m planting onions, garlic, spinach, parsnips, carrots, peas and potatoes now so that they’ll have a jump-start on spring and be ready for an earlier harvest than if I planted them as wintering is waning. To date I’ve planted everything but the onions, peas and spinach. Planting the garlic, potatoes and many of the onions involved tilling previously unused soil as these are being planted on the outside perimeter of the garden. (That’s my fancy way of saying it was a lot of work!) I also planted Asparagus. Best case scenario, we’ll have Asparagus in the spring of 2014, but it could be more like 2016 before a decent harvest is available. Click here to see a visual representation of the winter garden and here for spring.
  • Planted veggies for winter growing. Kale, lettuce, beets, chard and carrots are already thriving in the garden as we speak (or, as we read?). There are also many turnip, radish and snow pea seedlings bursting through the soil right now. Meanwhile, the greenhouse is full of leeks, cabbage, cauliflower and gobs of lettuce seedlings. (Most of these seedlings germinate between 65* and 75* so I’ve needed to use a small electric heater a few nights to keep the temperature as close to 70* as possible.) These greenhouse veggies will be transplanted outdoors in a few weeks. Their final destination will be in beds that I will convert into hotbeds. The peas, however, are already growing in the garden because I direct seeded them into my first completed hotbed.
  • Created hot beds. In a previous post I mentioned that I’d be converting six of our raised beds into ‘hotbeds’ for the purpose of growing winter vegetables. To date, I’ve been able to complete one of them. The reason I started with this particular bed is that I needed to direct seed plants into it (peas) while all the other beds will be receiving transplants. I promise to provide you with details on how I built the hot bed soon. Meanwhile, suffice it to say that the method seems to be working!
  • Cleaned out some garden beds. Much of the garden still needs to be “turned down” for the winter. This involves removing dead/dying plants, pulling weeds, and adding a layer of organic matter to the bed. The organic matter (mostly leaves from the yard) will breakdown over the winter and spring to add nutrients to the soil. A layer of leaves will also help to insulate the beds so hopefully they will thaw that much sooner in the spring. Depending on how much the leaves have broken down, I’m considering using them as mulch in the spring to retain moisture rather than turning them into the beds. More research to be done on that!

That’s about where things are for now. In a little while I’m going to go out and “turn down” a few more beds and hopefully plant some onions for overwintering. I have more detailed info to share on many of the points listed above, so stay tuned!

Lettuce seedlings

Lettuce seedlings growing in the greenhouse

Some of the seedlings that are growing in the greenhouse

Some of the seedlings that are growing in the greenhouse

Turnip seedlings

Those little patches of green are turnip seedlings emerging in one of our raised beds.

Some turnip seedlings that need to be thinned out.

Here is an up-close view of the turnip seedlings.
These need to be thinned out.


Flamingo chard and beets growing together in a raised bed.

Flamingo chard and beets growing together in a raised bed.

Carrots growing in raised bed

Carrots… and weeds!

Kale with raindrops

Rain drops on the kale.



Dog standing outside hotbed with plastic row cover

Marley came to help me check out what’s going on inside our first hotbed. You can see the weather-resistant thermometer inside the plastic row covering.

Snow pea seedling

What’s growing inside that hotbed? Snow peas, that’s what! They’re just starting to emerge.

More peas

More peas.

Weather resistant thermometer

Here’s a close up of the weather-resistant thermometer that ‘lives’ in the hotbed. It measures air temperatures only and not soil temperatures. As you can see, the current temperature in the hot bed is 70.2*. The outside air temperature at this time is 64*. This thermometer also tracks min and max temps. As of noon, the min for the day (the last 24 hours) was 48* and the high was 92*.

Maturing pink zinnias in fall

The zinnias are still trying to hang in there!

Tall radishes

The radishes in the Fenceline Garden are still plugging along, producing greens and seed pods.

Raised bed along fence

The sad-looking Fenceline Garden is ready to be tucked in for its winter nap.

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