Hot house cauliflowers

Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.

I know many people feel like I do, and when the Earth’s axial tilt starts making its way back toward the sun after winter solstice, the mind turns toward the garden, even though the temperature is down in the teens at night. Basically, this time of year—if you’re a bit OCD about this stuff—you can watch the day length growing by a minute or two every day. For example, on Thursday when this issue comes out, the day will be 9 hours and 38 minutes, but by the time the next issue comes out, the day will be 9 hours and 48 minutes long. The growing day length gives me hope that I’ll make it to March 13, when daylight saving time begins.

I tried to game the system a little this year, rebuilding a hoop house over the garden in the first week of December. A hoop house, also known as a high tunnel, is basically a semi-permanent greenhouse made out of 6 mil plastic sheeting stretched over some kind of structure. I used PVC tubing, but I have many friends who say that’s not the best way to go.

I planted peas, cauliflower and garlic on Christmas. There was already some Swiss chard in the ground. And even though it’s getting down to the teens at night, it gets up to 80 degrees in there on sunny days. Now, I don’t want to oversell what’s going on in my little slice of paradise—not surprisingly, no signs of growth from the peas or cauliflower—but it sure is nice to see the little green garlic fingers and the tiny new leaves on the chard. And really, just watering out in that warm, humid sunlight improves my attitude.

I see that the Western Nevada College Specialty Crop Institute has a $45 hoop house construction workshop on Fri., Jan. 14, in Yerington. You can call Ann Louhela for information at (775) 351-2551, but these workshops are held with some regularity, so keep an eye on these pages, particularly Kat Kerlin’s eco-event in the Green section, or check out her blog, Green with NV at