The Plant House, One Month Later

by A.J. Coltrane

Previous post here.

It’s been in the 20’s basically every other night over the last ten days or so. Yesterday we had snow. Life goes on in the plant house:

New growth in December. [L-R - Pac Choi, Parsley, Cilantro, Spinanch]. The new leaves look happier than the leaves that were on the plants at the time of transplanting.
New growth in December. [L-R – Pac Choi, Parsley, Cilantro, Spinanch]. The new leaves look happier than the leaves that were on the plants at the time of transplanting.
For comparison, November 2:

(L-R) Pak Choi, Parsley, Cilantro, Spinach
(L-R) Pak Choi, Parsley, Cilantro, Spinach

The bunch onions didn’t seem to mind the snow too much:

122113 bunch onions

A few thoughts about the plant house:

1.  Mid-late October is too late to move the cool weather plants into the plant house. Closer to the truth would have be sometime in August, or starting the plants from seeds even earlier. I’m still in the process of figuring out what the “correct” dates will need to be, accounting for the fact that it’s cooler here than in Seattle, though we’re still very near Puget Sound.

2.  During the winter months there’s not enough sun to drive the current plant house location. Tucked up against the west side of the Real House, the plant house *might* get about a 1.5 hours of sunlight on a good day. It’s situated in a location that’s among the hottest during June and July. I’ve been surpised at just how far down the horizon the sun rotates during the winter. A permanent greenhouse installation would likely either need to go in the front yard, or the center of the back yard, or somewhere nearer the south end of the west side of the Real House.

In a related aside, I’m now seeing why ancient peoples would build structures to accurately track the stars, and by extension the seasons and the position of the sun. If your life actually depended upon forecasting the upcoming weather you’d do everything you could to try to be accurate about it. As for me, thank you NOAA weather service.

3.  The 4′ x 4′ dimension of the plant house is small enough that the pac choi are tending to lay up against the walls. It seems everything touching the walls is perpetually too wet and too cold and generally rotting away. Two EarthBoxes is probably closer to the correct amount in a 4′ x 4′ space.

4.  If the goal is winter greens, it might be that the right answer is some form of protected [raised bed/ whiskey barrel/ cold frame] in the front yard. It may be that the EarthBoxes could be adapted by removing the plastic cover… maybe.

I think a four-season harvest is possible, it’s just a matter of figuring out the location, technique, and the appropriate greens.

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