It is now, when the snow has resurfaced for the second time in two weeks, that the need for greenery is felt the most. The memory of the past scaroles of the garden enjoyed at Christmas, the inimitable taste of carrots stored in sand or delicious turnip ‘golden Ball’ harvested before the frosts, are still alive in the minds and on the taste buds. Not to mention the jars of tomatoes or beans, the stocks of which are already well underway. How many months before spring and the return of baskets well filled? Even if, at the garden, as elsewhere, nothing gets a magic wand, be aware that it is possible to shorten this wait by sowing now in crops so-called “early” or “forced”. And this without being necessarily in the south of France where, as is well known, the winters are milder than elsewhere.
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It’s been several centuries, in fact, that the gardeners know how to take advantage of the famous greenhouse effect described by the French physicist Joseph Fourier (1768-1830) and the amplification at the scale of the earth’s atmosphere the headlines. In the vegetable garden, the phenomenon is 100% beneficial. Sown under shelter of glass, plastic or plexiglas is transparent, the plants germinate, grow and ripen more quickly in the favour of the addition of temperature stored. The gain of precocity is estimated to be approximately 15 days: what to expect to harvest lettuce,carrots, vegetables, turnips, or radishes in the month of April, subject to fulfilling certain conditions.
It should first of all have a good equipment chassis or tunnel, available in the trade but that it is relatively easy to make yourself. The first consists of a frame of wood (or bricks, which retain heat better) rectangular on which to build in a slight slope of the removable panels of glass or plexiglass. To get a good greenhouse effect, this “roof” should ideally be facing south to receive maximum solar radiation. You will also see to it that your chassis is not obscured by the shadows, greatly elongated in this season, houses or trees around. Same constraint for the tunnel, consisting of hoops of metal or plastic on which there is a long movie (5 or 10 m) made of polyethylene treated anti-UV.
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The installation of a veil of forced polypropylene non-woven allows you to gain a few degrees. 129587683/hcast – stock.adobe.com
In case of a cold, always to be feared in this season, you will earn valuable degrees in the posing of the split cane heather on the roof of the chassis, you will need to remove it during the day, or by covering the plants with a veil of wintering or forcing, in thick polypropylene non-woven.
The preparation of soil requires then the utmost care: unpacking without turning in the middle of a claw, intake moderate compost or manure ripe and then ripening to a hoe or a rake to get a seed bed conducive to the lifting.
You can also prepare a warm layer in your chassis by burying the fresh manure (horse, ideally between 20 and 60 cm of depth that you arroserez thoroughly before covering it with a mixture of potting soil and garden soil. The heat generated by the fermentation (up to 60°C for the “shot”) provides a natural heat very economic because without the input of external energy. But the medal to his lapel: you will need to regularly monitor the temperature of the earth from your chassis to sow or transplant your plants as soon as it goes down to around 20°C depending on the crop.
Sow seed of varieties adapted to the winter
In all cases, these techniques of coercion that require high availability, be it only for airing the shelter on a daily basis, in the opening or half opening (weather permitting) in the morning and close in the evening, except episode of cold. In case of neglect, the penalty may be immediate: the warm rays of the sun of march is likely to transform the chassis or the tunnel or oven and burn your crops. A sacred paradox, in the middle of winter… It is also necessary to water every time needed, but moderately, with water at room temperature to avoid that it would cool the earth and promotes the development of fungal diseases. The early-season vegetables, it deserves!
Finally, it is imperative to sow seed of varieties adapted to the culture of winter -otherwise it is failure. Here is a selection:
seedlings of radish. 93219509/konoplizkaya – stock.adobe.com
• Salads: ‘Carmen’, ‘Gotte jaune d’or’ (the most early), ‘Queen of May’, ‘Novappia’ for the lettuce head. ‘Golden spring’, ‘Blonde de Paris’ or ‘Red Bowl’ (leaves cut off), for batavias. A special mention for lettuce head ‘Deliane’ and ‘Sagess’, recent creations of Vilmorin, which have the great advantage of resisting the bremia disease, a disease more commonly known by the name of downy mildew of lettuce and the batavia ‘Magenta’ from Gautier semences.
• Cores : you have the choice between varieties of short duration (6 to 12 cm long) as the ‘Bellot’ and ‘Oxhella’ or round (3 to 4 cm in diameter) as the ‘Betting Market’ and ‘Chantenay à cœur rouge’. The F1 hybrids ‘Jerada’ or ‘Jeannette’ (18-22 cm) are sown from the end of February. In all cases, soak the seeds 24 hours before in a glass of water to facilitate germination. Eclaircissez very quickly after germination, a little later in the season, keeping only a young carrot every 2 to 3 cm. If all goes well (in the garden, one is never sure…), the harvest occurs at the end of 60 to 70 days.
• Turnip: the well-named ‘snowball’ can be sown from now on, just as ‘Milan red’, ‘Candia’, or the F1 hybrid ‘Tokyo Top’ which is harvested after 50 days only.
• Radishes: from mid-February, sow varieties with rapid growth, such as kiva, Gaufer, Sarda or even the famous ‘radish 18 days’ without forgetting the ‘radish to force round scarlet’.
• pea : ‘Douce Provence’, ‘Dwarf early from Annonay’ or ‘Full basket’ for the dwarf varieties (less than 60 cm in height), grain smooth and ‘Wonder of Kelvédon’ or ‘Karina’ for the grain withered. To plant now for a harvest in April.
Your appointment “garden” to do (mostly) not to be missed
• 9 to 17 February: exhibition and sale of orchids, Vacherot & Lecoufle, floral Park of la Source, Orléans (Loiret).
• 14 February to 11 march: 7th exhibition “a Thousand and one orchids’, a large greenhouse of the Jardin des Plantes, Byis.
• 16 February: Conference “Gardening au natural: solutions exist”, espace Jean Vautrin, Bègles (Gironde).
• Until 28 February: exhibition “winter Gardens”, the Domain of Chaumont-sur-Loire (Loir-et-Cher).
• 28 February-3 march: Exhibitions “Pool & garden” and “My house, my desires”, Parc Chanot, Marseille (Bouches-du-Rhône).
• 2 to 4 march: 560e frequently asked trees and plants, Lisieux (Calvados).
• 14 march: Symposium “Boxwood, issues, renewal and renaissance gardens”, the conference centre, Orléans (Loiret).
• 20 march: “Seed to plant: what are the stakes for our future?” MOOC organized by the Gnis and Agrocampus-ouest. Registration is open (click here).
• 29, 30 and 31 march: international Competition of floral art, “Elegance floral”, salle Claude Nougaro, Revel (Haute-Garonne).