Friday, October 3, 2008

The Celtic Fall Garden

We are very blessed in the Ozarks to have a nice extended growing season. On average, we do not get a freeze until mid to late October. We have extended that date even further the last couple of years. It's a fine time to be growing vegetables.

Being Irish, of course, we have lots of fun things to grow like cabbage, and onions, and broccoli. We also like to grow snap peas, spinach, and mixed greens as well. Of course, we have turnips! Get yourself some turnips, and a little greens, and cook them to tender. I add a touch of Greek Seasoning, garlic salt, pepper, bacon grease, plus a cap of liquid smoke! Mmm, Mmm! Now you got yourself somethin'.

With any luck, we will be growing all winter. One might ask: "how is that possible?" Even the Ozarks gets its share of cold weather. In my time, I have seen it get to -22 deg F. Unlike some of my Nordic friends, I don't like that kind of cold! The plants don't like it either!

The secret is the magic of small, well designed greenhouses. My winter greenhouse is 4' x8' x16". It is a raised bed garden made from concrete blocks. I use 1" PVC pipe to build framework, and I cover the garden with a thick layer of clear plastic (like you will typically see used on large greenhouses in commercial garden stores!) Under the raised bed, I have laid two layers of thick, plastic liner. Double layering can essentially create an extended growing season. The ground stays warmer, so the rich earth in the garden stays nice and toasty (from the plants point of view). There is rarely a time that I won't be able to extend the garden til the end of the year. Many times, it will go all the way to Spring planting. On a very cold night, I will stick a small space heater in one corner, far enough away from any plants so as to keep them safe. I stay away from the plastic pipe and plastic also.

In later articles, I'll discuss other aspects of the winter garden.

Ray Province
The Celtic Ozark Garden

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