Last year the hubby was trying to come up with unique items to grow that had a long shelf life. We already have winter squash which has been lasting 3 months after pulled in October, and garlic which can last up to 2 years. We decided to try luffa. A luffa is actually a squash that’s closely related to the cucumber, but when it dries out it leaves a fibrous scrubbing sponge. They last years if not used. And if they are used, they are one of the most biodegradable scrubbing sponges out there so customers will eventually wear it out and have to buy a new.
When we tried to grow luffa last year we did it on the ground and plants in the rows next to it shaded the them so they did not grow well. Also, we found that our growing season is shorter than the required growing timeline for ripening luffa. This year we started growing the luffa seedlings inside weeks before planting time. We also decided to grow the transplants up an arbor so they can spread freely to the sun.
Using hog panels you can find at your local farm store, we created a trellis wall with full arches on either end. This is really the first time we are trellising any of our produce besides the peas we’ve done in the past. We are looking forward to seeing how this turns out.
Thank goodness we have growing tunnels! We knew it was coming. We had planted spinach, lettuce, broccoli, beans and all the root vegetables under protective covers and we had our spring snow. The lowest point of the storm the temperature reached 10 degrees! Everything survived!
It’s amazing how a little agricultural fabric can increase the temperature in the tunnel up to 20 degrees higher than the outside. Especially if it was very warm when the tunnel was closed down. In this case it was.
Last year and this year the green beans were damaged even with the fabric so we’ve decided they are not good for early planting. Nursing them along last year to hopefully get some bean production was a mistake. The flavor of the beans were not good, and the plants fell to disease. They germinate so fast there is no reason to try and plant them early.
The meteorologists are not projecting any more spring snow so we can finally start planting summer season vegetables!
This year we got an earlier start on our transplants so had to double transplant some of them. Luffa requires almost 300 days of sunlight to get fully ripened Luffa so we started them very early and moved them into 4 inch posts before we transplanted into quart sized pots and then again into their final home.
Since last year’s broccoli was phenomenal having started them early under covered tunnels, we tried it again this year. The broccoli transplants went through 3 winter storms last spring we are expecting at least one this year. It’s been said the chill from a light frost improves the flavor of cabbage family plants. Broccoli is one of them.
Of course we grew basil, tomatoes and pepper transplants. They always take a long time to get to size but once they do, they rapidly produce. At least that has been our experience to date.
We have been hardening off the plants but will not drop them into the ground until we are sure the snow is past us.
It’s common to see Red Tail Hawks flying through our property. Last year a mother hawk was teaching her baby to fly and was hopping tree to tree across our acreage. They are enormous birds with wing spans almost 5 feet long. They are so large the only way to tell the one bird was a baby was the funny cackling noise it was making.
This year a male hawk started building a nest in the tallest tree in the middle of our property. We believe he is the baby we saw from last year. It didn’t take long for him to build a nest and attract a mate. While we love the wildlife this means we can no longer free range the chickens until they are gone.
Our new bird neighbors are still a little leery of us. When I’m working the garden the male floats above me, checking me out. If we get close to their tree they sound like they are growling at us. We are now trying to avoid their area because unlike your standard robin attack when you get close to their nest, we have the feeling a hawk attack could be a major problem.
In the mean time, we are enjoying watching these predators and look forward to seeing a baby being raised so close to home.