Comin’ up in life

May 19, 2009 at 7:51 pm Leave a comment


Fellow FoodCyclists,

Caring for young tender seedlings is a full-time job, I’m finding out. Especially when they’re sitting in an unheated greenhouse and temperatures fluctuate between 40 degrees celcius in the day, and 5 degrees at night. I’ve been trying my best to keep the temperature variation as narrow as possible for the youngins, closing all the vents and fans at night to prevent the temperatures from dropping too too low over the last few frosty nights, and rushing over in the early morning to turn on the fans and open the vents and stop the greenhouse from serving double-duty as an oven. Although our fans and vents will be automated by a temperature-sensitive computer, that system is not yet in place. In the meantime, I’ve had to babysit and have gotten a taste of what parenthood must be like. Of course the plants also need to be watered regularly with a light mist, so as not to break their delicate stems.


The cucurbits have come up nicely and are growing strong. Cucurbits are the family of crops that include cucumbers, melons, squashes, pumpkins, chayote, and a total of 825 other species, not all edible.

We’re trying out a few unusual and heirloom varieties, including Armenian cucumbers, which are crisp, thin-skinned, and mild-flavored. They’re regarded as one of the best slicing cucumbers and don’t need to be peeled; Japanese climbing cucumbers, which were introduced in the United States in 1892; two varieties of pickling cucumbers – the National and the Sumter; and the Marketmore cucumber, the plant of which produces succulent 9 inch fruits.

We’re also growing several varieties of squash, which is my favorite vegetable because of its versatility and delicate flavor, including the bright white Wood’s prolific patty pan squash, which will be ready to harvest in about 50 days, and the baby blue Hubbard squash, a winter squash with yellow fine-grained flesh.

We’ve also started a wide variety of heirloom tomatoes, including tangy Black Zebras, rich and creamy Yellow Brandywine tomatoes, sweet and juicy Canadian Savignac tomatoes, as well as tomatoes started from seed that was saved by Rebekka Hutton, one of our co-founders and board members.

Here’s a list of some of the other plants we started in the greenhouse:

Cabbages (Cairo baby, Early Jersey Wakefield, Glory of Enzukhien)

Collard greens

Eggplants (Rosa Bianca, Fairy Tale)

Kale (Dinosaur, Blue Curled Scotch, Red Russian)

Lettuces (Romaine, others)

Bunching onions (Red Baron, Green Banner)

Leeks (French heirloom)

Peppers (Lipstick Red, Jimmy Nardello’s, Sweet Chocolate, Hungarian Hot Wax, Cayenne Long Slim, Orange Habanero, Fish Hot, Orange Thai Hot)

Watermelons (Sugar baby, Sweet Siberian)

Oregano (Greek)

Basil (Italian large leaf, Red Rubin, Thai)

Thyme (Summer and Winter)



Parsley (curled and flat)


Sage (Ceres, Judean)

Lavender (Old English)

Edible flowers (Marigolds and Bachelor’s buttons)

These are only the long-season crops that need to be started early in the greenhouse for transplant into the field later on, so that they have enough time during our northern growing season to produce fruit. We’ll be seeding other crops directly into the field using a walk-behind Earthway seeder, which has a reservoir that you fill with seeds and a revolving plate with holes that dispense seed at specified intervals, depending on the spacing requirements for the particular crop.

That’s it for now. Just thought I’d get your collective mouths watering with colorful descriptions of soon-to-be available local food.

Cheers for now,

(on behalf of the FoodCycles crew)


Entry filed under: Agriculture, Food, Food Retail, Food Security, Gardening, Green Business, Greenhouse, Homesteading, Hoop House, Local Agriculture, Organic Agriculture, Restaurants, Sustainability, Urban Agriculture, Urban Gardening. Tags: , , , , .

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