My family and I are in the first year with our 26′ Growing Dome. This winter we are not at full capacity because we didn’t have time to get all of the beds built before the soil we needed to bring into the greenhouse froze solid to the ground. Right now we’re growing in a mix of raised beds and containers, and we planted all our seeds about a month later than we should have. It’s been a very mild winter and as the days become longer, the baby plants are excited to get growing. Soon we’ll be eating fresh Buttercrunch and Winter Density Lettuce, Broccoli, Mache and Arugula, but not quite yet. In the meantime, we harvested our first radish – in the beginning of January no less! I haven’t grown radishes before, not really knowing any applications for them besides salad garnish and cole slaw. But, when we went to buy seeds at the local garden store in early fall, all they had left for vegetable seeds were carrots and radish. These were French Breakfast Radish and the drawing of them on the front of the package made them look lovely. I figured I’d order salad green seeds online and then I’d have something to garnish when the radishes were ready. It turns out that radishes grow really fast!
Having a year round garden really shifts my perspective. Even though I’ve grown in zone 7B where year round gardening was possible outside, it was too darn wet in winter for me to bother with battling slugs, mold, and wash outs. In zone 5B where I grew previous to now, I had a nice, long season to try out the warm weather crops before the snow took over, but never ventured much further than overwintering garlic. Now, in zone 4B with a greenhouse I have more flexibility than I ever did in all my outdoor gardens. With this flexibility comes a good degree of responsibility and necessary awareness. Crop rotation becomes a practice rather than an idea.
Before I never really had to worry about how long it took plants to mature. I just planted them as early as was possible for their germination and then got food when I got food. Now if I want to have radish with my lettuce, I need to either wait to plant the quick maturing radish awhile after the lettuce or do successional plantings of radishes. Or, I can do what I did this time – find some inventive way to eat the mature radishes I have and plant more seeds right away. Greenhouse gardening definitely takes growing to an entirely new level for me. Before it felt like simple paint by number and now the subject of my painting is vaguely prescribed. We’re in the cold weather crops season, but what that looks like in my garden can mean one of tens of thousands of possibilities.I love how all of this versatility encourages imagination. Before, in the back of my mind was always lurking this scarcity mentality. I felt I needed to make sure to largely grow what I knew worked. I only experimented in a small section of the garden. If the experiment didn’t work all the effort in the garden wouldn’t be for naught. Now my entire garden is an experiment AND it’s working. There is a great sense of abundance and creativity here, a freedom worth experiencing. The tasty and unique dish we made from the surplus of early radishes is a great example… Chipotle Lime Chicken with Sauteed Radish garnished with Radish Tops.
Author: Stacey L. L. Couch