My hoop tunnels took about 15 minutes to assemble. I started writing about how I built them, but recognizing this is a post celebrating the harvest, I’ll save hoop tunnel instructions for another day. You can see vague leafy shapes through the plastic of the hoop tunnel.
You’ve found the home of Post Produce. Post Produce is a monthly online celebration of homegrown food. I’m posting this month about the lettuce I’ll harvest for my family’s Christmas dinner. I hope you’ll write a post on your blog about your own homegrown food, and return here to share a link back. The linky widget is at the end of this post.
It’s late December. WINTER! That means we’ve had many autumn nights (and days) where the temperature dropped below freezing. Despite the cold, I have fresh lettuce growing in my kitchen garden!
I reported back in October that a late planting of lettuce, spinach, and pak choi was growing nicely in my garden annex and that I had erected the skeleton for a hoop tunnel. I ended up making a second skeleton and draping two hoop tunnels with plastic in early November.
I haven’t harvested heavily from my semi-protected salad patch, but we have had fresh, homegrown greens at several meals even on days when the temperature never rose above freezing. This afternoon, I peeled back the entrance to one of the tunnels to confirm that we will have a fresh lettuce salad at Christmas dinner.
I spotted some damaged leaves on several lettuce plants—obviously frozen through some time ago. Still, the plants look healthy and we’re likely to have lettuce well into January unless the skies remain cloudy and the temperature drops and stays steadily in the low 20s.
Autumn has not challenged my hoop tunnels. While we’ve had an occasionally nighttime low of 24 degrees, soil hasn’t frozen. In fact, pak choi that didn’t make it into the hoop tunnels looks nearly as healthy as its sheltered neighbors. What’s more, my rhubarb plants are confused. They continue to push up new leaves as if they can’t accept that the growing season has ended.
That said, only these cold-hardy plants remain in my garden. Even cilantro has shut down without the benefit of cover, though I expect the plants will revive very early after the spring thaw. This will by my first winter ever in which I’ve served homegrown lettuce salad. It will most likely be the first of many.
Several lettuce leaves in my hoop tunnel are droopy, and a few look as though they’ve frozen and thawed. However, there is clearly enough deliciously fresh-looking lettuce here to fill two or three large salad bowls.
Some pak choi plants ended up inside my hoop tunnels while some remained exposed to the elements. Here, at the beginning of winter, the “outdoor” plants are ready for harvest. This is my first year growing pak choi so I don’t know what temperature will finally kill it off. We’ve had several nights this fall that were cold enough to kill the lettuce plants; without the hoop tunnels we wouldn’t be having homegrown lettuce at Christmas.
This is just weird. I planted what seemed like really sketchy rhubarb roots in the spring—packages I’d bought at a discount store for about a dollar a plant. They’d been packed while dormant in moist soil and sealed in plastic bags, and I’ve no idea how long they sat on the department store shelf at room temperature. Still, they sprouted and thrived in my garden. Now, when there should be no sign of the plants (except, perhaps, for rotted leaves and stems), there are still mature, pink stalks and full-sized leaves. There are even new leaves (like the ones in this photo) emerging on some of the plants. It has been a very mild autumn.
Post About Your Produce
Share your garden produce with the world! Write your own blog post about what you’re eating from your garden. Are you harvesting now? Are your veggies and fruits still on the plants but coming on strong? Are you dipping into your preserves from this past growing season?
After you post, return here and add a link to the widget below. Please join in this month’s celebration of homegrown produce!