September in the Greenhouse
What Would Donna Do? New Crops and Bumper Harvests
I’m flying home through Calgary into Comox on my way back from a speaking gig. It’s late August and the pilot warns us: it is snowing close to Calgary. In August.
Changeable weather is one reason people living in high elevations and northern regions need a greenhouse. When conditions switch from summer to snow in a day, a greenhouse isn’t just fun, it’s essential. Now, hot weather gardeners I’m sure have other challenges which a greenhouse could solve too but that’s not my reality (unfortunately!).
In a cold, windy climate it isn’t the cold gardeners fear the most. It is the hot and balmy months right after the killing frost. Imagine plants dead on the ground when there are still several more weeks of possible summer? If every keen cold-climate gardener had a greenhouse they would still be growing into October and beyond.
This year I used my greenhouse to grow sesame. I believe in the right to fresh food for all so I am also using my greenhouse to stretch seasonal edibles. I started a row of radish seed in early August and in just 18 days I was serving radish at a dinner party – some kind of growing record for me. Spinach, mustard and lettuce are also seeded now and will be ready to serve and share later this winter.
Here are some ideas to use bumper crops:
Sesame is advertised as drought tolerant. The plants actually prefer it dry. But when they lived for a week without water in +30 C weather this summer, I fell in love. And of course the pretty blooms make Sesame look more like an ornamental than a field crop so this is an added bonus.
When the Sesame seed arrived in it’s seed packet it looked exactly like the sesame seed I buy at the grocery store and I actually felt foolish. I wonder why I never thought to grow this pretty plant before? Seeded in my greenhouse May 15 and transplanted outside along the hot sunny south side of my greenhouse 2 weeks later, it will be ready to harvest in mid-September. I give it a five star rating for simplicity and (anticipated) yield.
Right to Fresh Food:
A tour of the Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, Manitoba this summer surprised me. I think of human rights as the right to being treated fairly regardless of religion or sex. I think of the horrors of the Holocaust and Rwanda. But what I discovered this summer is that access to food is also considered a basic human right and all humans deserve access to clean, fresh food.
If you regularly drop off your extra tomatoes and watermelons and beans and potatoes at the food bank in summer, you are already using your greenhouse for a higher purpose: to help guarantee fresh food for all. At my local Salvation Army soup kitchen, even giant zucchinis are welcome because the army chops them up to make and serve soup daily.
This fall, as the final big harvests come in and gardener’s pantries and freezers fill to over-capacity, greenhouse growers have the ability to help others with their basic human right to fresh food.
Luckily I love to grow food, so like other keen greenhouse growers, I am able to help the world in one small way. We can all use our greenhouses to help the world and guarantee the basic human right to fresh food. What the world needs now is love and we can share the love by sharing our food this fall.
For more great tips from Donna, visit www.donnabalzer.com.
You can also read Donna’s gardening books: No Guff Vegetable Gardening with Steven Biggs and her just released Gardener’s Gratitude Journal: Part Diary, Part Personal Growing Guide.