Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Looking Back on the Season

This season I've finally been able to focus more on generating some income. My house being livable as of last fall, I've put the finishing touches on hold for most of the season so that I could devote more time to market gardening. The hoop house project has gone really well this season and has brought some more positive cash flow to my bookkeeping. Also, since I'm no longer in Wisteria Lodge, I've been able to rent it out to others and begin making money off my investment. This focus on money is mostly out of necessity since I've been only spending money since coming to DR. But it was all an investment in having a place to live, and in a future means of providing for myself. And although I say “making money”, using our Elms local currency a lot of my income actually comes from barter.

It's been a good season. I've been able to pay my basic expenses and still find some time to work on finishing the house, though of course I never get as much done as I would like.

Spring in the hoop house was incredibly productive.  Everyone here at DR was really happy to be able to get local greens so early in the season.  I grew a salad mix that contained red and green oakleaf letuce, pac choi, mizuna, claytonia, endive, arugula, baby kale, and mache.  I also sold a lot of spinach. 

As the season progressed I planted head lettuces, which I found took up a lot more space.  They also matured at about the time people started getting lettuce and other greens in from their gardens, so there was not as much demand for them.  They are pretty though, and butterhead lettuces like this one are my favorite for salads.
By late spring the lettuces were getting bitter and the greens were starting to bolt, so I cleaned out the beds and planted summer crops.  I experimented with many hot weather vegetables this season.  Because I've had problems growing melons outside in the past because of pests and the season being too short or too cool, I thought I'd try them in the hoop house.  I knew they wouldn't be ideal as far as space efficiency, but I just wanted to see what they'd do.  I also planted slicing cucumbers, peppers, and eggplant, thinking these crops would love the extra heat they'd get in the hoop house.

It's interesting that the eggplant and peppers did fairly well in the hoop house because apparently it was so hot outside this summer that a lot of those crops didn't even set fruit until September, when things had cooled off.  My tomatoes put on plenty of leaves, but didn't fruit at all during the hottest two months of the season.  I ended up with a wheelbarrow full of green tomatoes before the first frost in October.  I think the eggplant and peppers were able to fruit because they got a head start on their outdoor counterparts and were able to set fruit before it got really hot out.

The clear summer bumper crop this season in the hoop house was the slicing cukes. I must have harvested a couple hundred cukes off of the one row I planted.  Each cuke was at least a foot long and weighed over a pound.  And they made the most delicious salads, of which I ate many topped with my homemade feta cheese.  Sunflower eating co-op was happy to buy the bulk of them to feed their hungry work exchangers.

The melons were another success story.  The muskmelons were able to produce about 9 melons and the watermelons 3 altogether.  Not the greatest show considering the space they took up in the hoop house.  But they were probably the most delicious melons I've ever had.  One of the watermelons weighed over 20 lbs.  Each muskmelon was at least 5 lbs.

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