Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Unexpected

I did not expect to find myself this far into October with only one blog post written. 2016 is definitely going to go down in my personal history as the year that the blog did not go as expected.

I did not expect to come down a cold for 2 of the 4 days of Fall Break.  This was so unexpected, in fact, that I spent a full 12 hours or so in denial--"darn allergies!" "whew, I'm tired--must be all the fresh air!" that kind of thing.

I did not expect that I would make the radical decision to keep a garden in the fall.  This means... well, let me just show you what this means:

If you have no idea what you're looking at, you're looking at the frames for low tunnels.

They're actually quite easy to make: you drive 18" rebars into the ground, and then you arc 10 ft. lengths of 1/2" PVC pipe over them.

And then, eventually, you put Agribon fabric over the hoops, and voila, you have low tunnels.

During the day, the sun warms the soil, but as temps cool in the fall and early winter, all of that "radiant heat" is lost at nighttime. By constructing low tunnels, you're trapping the daytime heat in the soil so it won't simply... float away... at night.

If the soil stays warmer, the plants will be happier, obviously, and continue to grow.

That said, however, you can't just grow any old thing--tomato season is done, people. Nor can there be cucumbers.

But some plants actually do better in spring and fall, when temps are cooler, and some plants are somewhat hardy and can hold out through early winter.  So I'm attempting to grow some of those plants, and see what happens.

I've got beets (red and golden), brussels sprouts, carrots, broccoli (an unlikely prospect, I know, but I'm giving it a whirl), leeks and lettuce.  So far, things are doing pretty well.  I've started putting the fabric over the tunnels and closing them (more or less) at night. 

I did it last night, and unless I'm losing my marbles (and I may very well be), it looked like the plants were happier for it in the morning. The true test will be tomorrow night, though, when it's supposed to be much cooler--not frost or freeze warning cool, but... much cooler than it's been.

I'm working on it bit by bit, because getting the fabric in place is a bit of a chore. It would be easier if I had an extra pair of hands, but I don't, so I have to just work at it bit by bit, and I figured that would be better to do if it wasn't a race against the clock to beat a freeze warning.

This way, the thinking goes, it will be easy-peasy to close up the tunnels when the nights (and days) are truly much cooler than they are now.

I've also been working on some knitting. Specifically, I'm working on finishing up a bunch of projects that I started ... well, last spring, probably. Some dragged on through the summer, but some just got set aside.  I do that a lot.  And then October rolls around and I'm finishing up a tank-top.

What I've promised myself, though, is that this time around, I'll finish these summery things up and then go right to a more winter-based project. So that I can actually wear a newly-finished project because it's seasonally appropriate.

All of this gardening and knitting, though, means that I'm not doing as much writing or reading as I'd like, so right now, it's about balancing the unexpected while keeping on track with the things I need to be doing.

And I need to master this balance within the next 24 hours, I think, because I'm getting my first batch of grading... tomorrow.

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