Extending the Season

Professor Carrot Says

Professor Carrot Says

It’s amazing what you can do with a greenhouse

If we’re growing our own vegetables, part of the fun is learning how to extend the season for best results. Protected cropping is one way of doing this.

In our glasshouses, we’re able to grow throughout the year. In summer they produce all kinds of goodies earlier than we would otherwise be able to. As commercial growers, we can get a real premium if the crops are 2 weeks early.  This little video clip gives you a feel of what can be achieved.

Of course during the winter the situation changes – if you can arrange to produce leaves under glass you can have a good supply of spinach and chard, winter salad and Kale and broccoli right through.

Glasshouse view

Glasshouse view

As I write this just before Christmas we are shipping out  200 salad bags, 80 bags of rocket and another 200 bags of Spinach and stir-fry greens.  While it’s true that we have a lot of glass here – you could still provide quite a lot for a family of 4 using a 2 x 5 meter polytunnel type greenhouse.

Of course this represents us growing directly in the ground. Other approaches you can take include starting plants off under protection in propagators or modules and then planting them out when the soil has warmed up (which you can check with one of our handy soil thermometers) at the right spacing to get the results you want.

You may still have to protect them against a late frost of course but you will understand that you can protect them using cloches in the initial stages. The great benefit of this approach is that you can plant out healthy, well spaced plants which will be so far ahead of the weeds that it should only take an interim hoeing to keep them ahead so that, if you have planted them at the kind of densities we recommend, they will simply smother the weeds.

To help you get the benefits of this approach we have started to offer some propagation products from our partner hydrogarden which include potting modules, propagation kits and rooting gel to make sure that if you are propagating from cuttings instead of just from seed you get the results you want.

As organic growers, we are still growing in the earth – albeit under glass. Many commercial growers of both ornamental and some baby salad crops grow entirely in pots and modules of the life of the plant – we as gardeners however prefer to see our plants flourishing healthily in a natural environment.

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