The snow has melted, the dirt is drying out a bit, and the warmth of the springtime sun is making things start to grow again. In this last week of April, we are getting some greens in the ground and then covering them with low tunnels to give them a chance of survival, and hopefully growth in the ever-changing climate of spring in Vermont. You know, how one day it’s 80° then it’s 25° two nights later, and there is a skiff of new snow on the ground; one day you have lunch on the deck in a t-shirt, the next day you wear a winter coat to have lunch on the deck, because the sun is shining, and you have been cooped up all winter and are going to sit out no matter what?
A few weeks ago, we started the lettuce, spinach, kale and other cold-hardy greens inside, because germination would be too slow in the cool soil, and it would be a tough battle for the seedlings in the early spring. Last fall, we mixed in compost and manure so it would have time to decompose and enrich the soil. Now, we are preparing slightly raised 30″ wide beds to capture the warmth of the sun, and keep above the rains that come every couple of days. We covered one of the beds with clear plastic sheeting, and the other with Agribon, a spun-bonded permeable material, both are supported with wire hoops. We are always experimenting to see what is going to work best in a particular situation.
Both products will protect from frost to a degree, but the Agribon will allow some air flow as well as rain to get through. The plastic will increase the heat in the tunnel and have to have the ends opened on sunny days, and we will have to pull the cover for watering from time to time. It will be interesting to see the difference, if there is one.
We are anticipating these greens to ready by the end of May, and with a little luck, we will have them for sale at the Randolph Farmer’s Market.