–Karline Jensen, High Rocks, Hillsboro, WV

We planted some fall salads at our Season Extension workshops on August 20 and 21.  Guess what, it has only rained a half an inch since.  We watered them really well when we planted them, and then I was able to water them two more times.  It hasn’t rained since the first of September, and our cisterns are getting low!  One of our springs has totally dried up, and the other is only a trickle.  So it’s been almost two weeks since they’ve gotten any water, and it has been hot, in the 80s every day.  But the salads are looking pretty good anyways:

I’m planning to harvest some for our new AmeriCorps member orientation on Monday.  I’ll probably give them a little water this evening just to make sure they don’t totally wilt over the weekend.

At the workshop we learned about “Persephone Days”– those dark days in winter when we get less than 10 hours of sunlight.  Here in Hillsboro, WV, our last ten hour day is November 19.  Salad crops need to be planted at least six weeks before the last ten hour day, because their growth will slow as the days shorten and the temperatures fall, and they really won’t grow at all through the winter once the days are shorter than ten hours long.  If we protect them from the cold, they can stay alive, and we can continue to harvest them whenever they are not frozen, even though they’re not getting any bigger.  August 20 was a bit early for planting salad to eat all winter long, but we wanted to hold the workshop early enough that everyone would have time to go home and get their own plantings in.  Plus we get salad in time for our AmeriCorps orientation!  We’ll probably plant some more around the first of October.

Hard to believe the snow will soon fall when it’s still in the 80s, but planning ahead we’ll have a nutritious harvest undaunted by the cold.