Today in Champaign-Urbana is the first day of the year when the sun sets over 10 hours after it rises!! And with that, plants can get enough light to really begin growing on their own under cover. Granted, there are many variables at play here, and so this is rather an arbitrary statement, but I choose to celebrate anyway!
Last fall I tried out a new pipe bending tool from Johnny Seeds so that I could use EMT metal pipe instead of PVC to make my low hoop houses. And I used a greenhouse plastic for the cover instead of off-the-shelf plastic. They are holding up well to the cold and wind. Carrots are starting to green up again, and I’ve seen signs of maybe one or two lettuce plants waking up inside the one. I expect the spinach, kale and arugula are also starting to perk up a bit on warmer days. With luck, now that we’re crossing over 10 hours of light per day, we’ll have fresh greens again within a month. And in the other low hoop house, the Brussels sprouts continue to develop from last fall.
The low hoop houses are all passive — no added heat or light. And yet, they provide that little extra bit of protection so that we can extend the growing season a fair bit. I won’t know for a year or so what the full ramifications will be to my ecosystem. For instance, how is the balance of minerals and nutrients being affected, and how will the microorganisms and fungi react? That is, what impact do these actions by me as a part of the community have on the health of the whole? I will need to listen carefully to the other parts of my community!