Sunday, May 23, 2010

Lettuce sallies forth

Gardening in Alaska is always a dilemma, when May 15 (the ides of May) rolls around. Should I plant now? What if there's a frost? From my records, the last frost is mid-may; but one year there was -0.1C on June 6. Bother! However, gardening is gambling. We can always seed. But the earlier you get the transplants in, the earlier you eat. So today (after much dithering) I got the lettuce transplants into the ground.
Hedging my bets, I cloched them. Cloche is the French word for bell. In the 1890's these (with glass bell-like jars) were common practice in Europe, an individual plant greenhouse, in fact. They have been superseded, largely, by row covers and hoophouses. Some people in Alaska, indeed, use big glass jugs with the bottoms cut off. But it is much easier to use plastic containers, top and bottom cut off. I collect these things. Almost any transparent container will do; but the labels have to come off. You can cut the 'tainers off with a knife, but I wait until I have a batch and then fire up the bandsaw. Much faster and neater. Later in the summer, I feel I am drowning in a sea of cloches. At this time of year I never have enough.

In the greenhouse we have tomatos and zucchini. Tomorrow, the jalapeños, I think, cloched and greenhoused for insurance. These need all the time that they can get to grow in these hostile conditions.

The garden addition has its beds. Forward the garden! And we have more planting to do in the ur-garden -- and ... I am completely worn out. Fortunately, this only happend once a year.

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