As spring arrives, the hoop house is filling with germinating arugula, spinach, radishes, carrots, beets, and cilantro. I don’t have much to say about that, except it is nice to have my hands in the soil again and anticipate the fresh foods that these little cotyledons represent. I did want to mention a couple of other things we’ve got going on in the hoop house that are more unusual.
Last year we planted a couple of Reliance peach trees in the back of the hoop house. That cultivar is about as hardy as a peach gets and is still on the edge for northern Vermont. We like to try plants that are just on the edges of our zone 4, and hope that the little bit of extra protection that the hoop house provides will be enough of a buffer to make the peaches successful. We don’t want to sacrifice too much space to our peach experiment, so we are training the small trees into a fan shape along the end wall and will continue to direct and prune them into that “flat” plane. This is our first foray into espalier, so we’ll see how it goes.
We’ve also been blessed with the weed like attributes of Claytonia. Last September we planted 3 beds to spinach for overwintering. With the weirdly warm Fall/Winter we had, we ended up picking the spinach a few times before “real Winter” hit. Then in March when the spinach normally would start producing, it was worn out and getting ready to bolt. So we pulled out the spinach. Under the spinach was this lovely carpet of Claytonia that we did not plant, but will be able to harvest. We’ve struggled with getting the timing and temperature needs right for growing a good stand of Claytonia, so at some point in the past years we have either spread Claytonia seed in these beds or allowed plants to go to seed. It seems the seed will hang out in the soil and kick into gear when the temperatures are just right for it all on its own.
The thickness of sowing and intermixing with other obstacles like grass make the harvest less than ideal. But, we can’t complain, it’s an extra yield that we never planted, ready for salad in April.