Thanks ~ Claire
January 30, 2013
In the past few days I've been changing the way the wintergreens blog looks. I took a screen shot below for those of you who get updates in your email. Let me know what you think, or if there is something missing you would like to see!
Read more about: wintergreens
January 28, 2013
Winter is all about eating lots of soup. Especially when you constantly feel like you might be getting sick. Most soups benefit from a few leafy greens. I add a chopped handful (or two) in just a few minutes before serving so they have time to cook, but are still vibrant green. Above is chicken soup with spinach, but nearly anything would work. Tat soi, pak choi, vitamin green, swiss chard, or kale would be especially good.
January 25, 2013
It is a happy day when seeds start to sprout. I planted these just ten days ago! I don't know what the brassicas above are, then are labeled "bottom of the box" because I found them at the bottom of my seed box. They might be tokyo bekana.
Defender lettuce is starting to sprout too, but only in the warmer greenhouse.
Read more about: germination
January 23, 2013
January 22, 2013
Last Friday I went to check on the greens and see if they needed to be watered. In the winter they don't need much water, so I don't go in as often. When I went in the greens looked wilty - wilty? Even though it was below freezing outside? Closer inspection showed the media was frozen on top and the greens were not wilted, but frozen. Here's what happened in a temperature timeline:
January 20, 2013
|Source: Johnny's Seeds|
I chose organic Corvair spinach to replace Space as the primary spinach variety for measuring growth rate. See if you can guess why based on the High Mowing description:
"High level of downy mildew resistance. Smooth, oval leaves are medium to dark-green and upright for easy harvesting by hand or harvester. High yield potential and widely adapted for spring or fall productions."
How many races of downy mildew is it resistant to? 11! Hopefully won't have to worry about downy mildew this year. I also have some other varieties to try out including, emu and red cardinal.
January 18, 2013
While sifting through all the growth rate data I collected last fall, one thing I'm looking at is fuel use, and if using more fuel to speed up growth rate is cost effective.
The greenhouses are heated by a furnace that blows hot air out (left). They have a meter on them (right) that shows how many hours the blower has actually been blowing air out. I record the number twice a week. Since the meter is continuous I adjust the numbers to reflect the number of hours it was on for my particular experiment. Oh-so-conveniently, the furnace uses one gallon of fuel every hour, so I also convert "hours" to "gallons."
The above chart shows total fuel use in each greenhouse. Greenhouse one is heated to a 40 degree (F) minima and greenhouse two is heated to a 50 degree minima. This doesn't mean that each greenhouse is at a constant temperature, it means the temperature will not fall below the given set point. You can see this created a big difference in how much fuel was used.
Since 'gallons of fuel' is a bit arbitrary to the non-greenhouse owner, lets attach monetary values (everyone understands dollar signs). So,
Greenhouse 1: 108gal x 3$/gal = $324
Greenhouse 2: 264gal x 3$/gal = $792
* As usual, this data pertains only to our greenhouses this fall. It is not complete and should not be used elsewhere. If you are looking for data pertaining to winter greens growth, fuel use and temperature you'll just have to wait until I'm done with my thesis! *
January 16, 2013
Under a layer of snow everything seems to be sleeping, even the greenhouses. Inside I've seeded the new years first planting of lettuce and mizuna. Cold winter temperatures mean it won't be ready to harvest for at least a month - maybe longer. Until then I'm busy planning and writing.
Read more about: winter
January 11, 2013
I know you are agog with curiosity wondering how I am using the quadratic equation. By using it I feel like I am fulfilling every math teachers dream. This post will be a bit math heavy - just think of it as a way to ward off dementia. Plus, this is the whole point of what I am doing, so it's pretty important.
First, the data I'm using is from mizuna planted on September 18th. Second, remember that I measure growth rate by measuring leaf length of the greens twice a week. The above chart shows those measures condensed over time. Each vertical line of dots is one day. You can see what a range of leaf lengths there are in plants sown on the same day and that as leaf length increases with time.
But, no, it's time to add a quadratic curve (in green). Quadratic equations are curvy, which is why the equations describing them are more complex and involve squared values. See:
Leaf length (cm) = -3.41 + 0.64*DAS - 0.02*(DAS-21.49)2
The quadratic line fits the data better than the linear line (just trust me), so that's what I should use.
Finally, we've gotten to the point - how to use these equations! (If you've made it this far I commend you.) I've determined that the best size for baby salad greens is between 6 and 12 cm (purple dotted lines on the chart above). Using the linear and quadratic equations I can figure out how many days it takes for mizuna to reach these sizes. Just looking at the chart, it takes mizuna about 16 days to reach 6cm and about 24 days for it to reach 12cm. I'd say that is enough for a Friday morning right?
January 9, 2013
Remember the low tunnels from last year? I won't be looking at germination again this year, but I've set one up to jump start germination and growth of greens. Despite the low temperatures, the greenhouses are warm - as long as the sun is out.
January 7, 2013
Last week I commented on not knowing what to do without any salad greens in the house. In truth, we have bags of frozen spinach that were harvested before downy mildew took over and are not totally bereft of green things to eat. I've also watered the nearly-dried-out greens that were left to fend for themselves in the greenhouses during Christmas break. So, soon I'll be back in business.
In the meantime, I'm wrestling with the quadratic equation. If you haven't thought about this since high school (like me!) it looks like this: Ax2 + Bx + C = Y or this: X = (-B +/- √(-B – 4AC)) /(2A). I'm using it to look at all the growth rate data from the fall. So far it's a bit headache-inducing, but makes me glad I've hung onto my TI-83. (For anyone older than me I think you used slide rules to do algebra? Wikipedia describes slide rules as 'mechanical analog computers,' which sounds like a term that would get you shoved into a locker).
January 4, 2013
1. According to nationofchange.org:
"The nutritional value of foods is at risk, with the amount of nutrients found in fruits and vegetables having diminished greatly over the years. One apple today may carry half the amount of nutrients as an apple produced 50 years ago."2. Obesity is the most common reason for ineligibility to join the army.
3. We don't have any salad greens, and I don't know what to do.
4. Kyoto is a brassica offered through Johnny's that is: "Similar to standard mizuna, but the attractive, finely-divided leaves are bulkier and less deeply cut." Sounds good to me!
January 2, 2013
Read more about: greenhouse