ChiloquinNews article 4/25/2011
With the combination of my summer outdoor garden, the greenhouse and the use of my pump house for cold storage, I have been able to give up buying vegetables, and really only buy fruit that is impossible here, like bananas, oranges, mangos and melons. Of course it does mean eating what is in season, when it is in season here – not when it is in season in South America.
Root crops do really well in this area. Potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, beets; grow them outdoors in summer and keep them in storage for several months. Peas and beans also do well though sometimes the first frost of late summer nips the beans before you’d like it to. Still, I get enough to eat plenty when they’re fresh, as well as enough to freeze to see me through to the next growing season. I also get dried beans that are a wonderful addition to chili and soups. Cabbage, broccoli and brussels sprouts also do well, and you can preserve or freeze the extras for a treat in the winter. You can even get a little corn if you work at it. Leafy greens of course do well in the late spring and early summer and you can have fresh herbs for the summer, and dry them for the winter.
So what is hard to grow outdoors? Anything that needs a long season and warm nights: tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, cucumbers, squash, melons, basil and rosemary. It is an experiment in progress to discover which of these will do well in the greenhouse. So far I haven’t had much luck with peppers, eggplants, squash and melons. I’ve been whittling away at tomato varieties, looking for the best producers and so far have found ‘Medford’ and ‘Black Krim’. Black Krim gives me tomatoes all the way through to the beginning of December – got to love that. Last year I tried ‘Pearl’ cucumber and got the best result to date. Basil fades out around December, but I also grow Cuban oregano, rosemary, parsley and Stevia, so the greenhouse provides me with fresh herbs year-round.
By the time December rolls around, the days are so short and dark that nothing much happens in the greenhouse. If, in October, you have started lettuce, spinach, peas – any of the cool season vegetables, they will have sprouted and grown a little, but then will just wait for the longer days of February. They’ll take off then though and by March you’ll be feasting! And in March, if you plant beans, you’ll get a jump on the outdoor season. I plant my tomato seedlings in April and usually get the first tomato around the first of July. If your greenhouse is not heated in any way, then you can still extend the growing season, but not to this extent.
I love fruit, so I have strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, Aronia, sea buckthorn, currants, gooseberries and elderberries all doing well outdoors. My fruit trees are still young and not producing yet but one day I hope to add apples, plums and pears to the harvest. In the greenhouse are the real treats – grapes, figs, persimmons, Feijoas and passion fruit!
Greenhouse grapes and persimmons
spinach, chard, peas, and even a fading tomato on Dec. 30th