Four weeks ago, Scott and I made our first ever attempt to grow mid-winter vegetables in our new greenhouse. This is not only our first try at growing food in a greenhouse, it is also the first time, in our three decades of gardening, we’ve ever grown salad greens. At the recommendation of our experienced neighbor and thanks to her ready supply of tried-and-true greenhouse seeds along with some of our own leftovers from last summer, we planted what we hoped would soon become salad: Rainbow Carrots, Maribor Hybrid Kale, Bright Lights Chard, Winter Bloomsdale Spinach, Tyee Spinach, Black-seeded Simpson Lettuce and Verde De Cambrai (corn salad/mâche).
The first seeds to germinate were the Black-seeded Simpson Lettuce, but now everything is growing gangbusters. Even the Black Raven Zucchini we planted two weeks ago is two inches tall. Folks chuckle at our zucchini experiment, adding that they are certain we’ll be sick of zukes before summer even arrives. Not so, me thinks.
Things seemed to take a bit longer than advertised to germinate. I attribute that to the short day light hours of January and perhaps to the fact that we initially covered the planting beds with white shade cloth in order to keep the soil warm. However, it is possible the cloth, rather than warming the soil, instead reflected light/heat away from the seeds, so we removed that after the first week.
Since we’ve planted, we have also been monitoring the high and low air temperatures inside the greenhouse. These have ranged from a low of 24 to a high of 88. I purchased a soil moisture monitor as well as a soil thermometer. Despite the low air temperatures, the soil temperature 6 inches down is 68 degrees. Right now we are in the midst of a cold spell so we’ll see how everything goes. Still, as insurance against freeze, we put two layers of frost cloth over the seedlings.