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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

April in the Growing Dome

April in Northern New Mexico is an iffy proposition. Temps this month have been as high as the mid-70's and as low as 22 degrees F., and when we first moved here I was told not to plant anything outside until June 1. The climate appropriate tomatoes and cabbage I duly planted on June 1 grew poorly due to the variable temperatures, the wind, hail, sleet, poor soil and something called a wintry mix. Of course, I didn't know anything about growing stuff up here, so that had a lot to do with my garden failures.

I started researching greenhouses and discovered the Growing Dome, mainly because I would have a year round growing environment and a warm place to visit in the dead of winter.

I am still learning the seasons inside the dome, with its warm and sometimes moist interior, a place that turns the notion of waiting until June 1 to plant summer veggies upside down. In March two volunteer tomato plants from last year popped up and they now have blossoms on them.
The winter veggie seeds were replanted in late October, after a mishap in September when four beef cattle found their way through the dome's open door, circled around and somehow shut themselves in. Chaos and destruction ensued. No bueno. So now we have winter stuff still growing even though I want to get more warm weather stuff in our growing beds. It's a nice quandary to have, though, because we have fresh produce right here at home.

What I will do is tuck warm weather veggie seeds and plants into the spots vacated by the cool weather ones. The lettuce here is almost done, and the snap peas and beets will go soon, too. My baby tomato seedlings (Amy's Sugar Gem and Stupice) will go here, but I must research to be sure tomatoes like onions next to them, since I just planted those onion guys in between the beets and the lettuce.

Here is a long shot of the winter veggie side of the dome: broccoli. onions hiding under the broccoli, snap peas, the lettuce you saw in the previous pic, more onions, beets, and Brussels sprouts.

Trudy wanted to see how broccoli looks on the plant, so here you go, Trude!

The broccoli part we eat is the plant's flower, with the largest "blossom" in the center. What I do is cut the center broccoli when it's ready and then allow side shoots to grow so I have another batch of the green gems. These plants are so big I may need to rethink how to place them in the beds the next time.

 Below you can see where I have cut the center flower (and we ate it last week). You can see smaller shoots forming where the leaves connect with the main stalk.

And here is another race to the finish: If you look closely at the picture below, there are teensy Brussels sprouts buds forming where the leaves connect with the stalk. I keep worrying that it will be too warm for them to continue growing, but so far, so good.

Amazing, isn't it? If you haven't seen it, there is a good recipe for Brussels sprouts roasted  on the stalk right here.

Okay, what else..Oh, yeah! I replanted these Earth Boxes with a a lemon thyme plant on the right and some rosemary on the left back at the end of October and they did fine all winter long. I need to give the thyme a good shearing because it is blooming. The black water tank is just behind the boxes, the warmest place in the dome during winter because the sun hits the black sheet metal and makes it toasty right there. The marks on the sheet metal are from the steers' hooves, which I think hit the tank as they were going round and round.

So we did okay this winter in the Growing Dome; even Manny, Moe and Jack, the fishies, survived.

On the rebuilt side of the dome, which Tom finished earlier this month, we have tomatoes, Poona Kheera cucumbers, lettuce, green beans, radishes and kale. At the end of April our local nursery opens and I will buy some pepper and chile pepper plants and perhaps a few other things that strike my fancy.

But that is for another time. Cheers, and happy springtime to you all.


  1. Its really wonderful!! You have all kinds of great things growing...I imagine it is hard to figure out when to plant what in the dome....HOPE it all goes as planned!! Did you buy it as a kit and assemble it or built it from scartch?

  2. good job Bridget! I'm being LAZY and only growing beans, tomato's, bell's and watermelon.. Slow start on pumpkins... Jeanie

  3. Sondra, we bought the growing dome kit from Growing Spaces in Colorado. Because we are not too handy in a carpenter sort of way, a crew came with the dome to build it.

    It actually looked pretty easy while they were building, it, but it would have taken us a heck of a lot longer (they took 2 and a half days).

    We built the raised beds inside ourselves, which was an adventure.

  4. Jeanie, my goal is to only grow stuff I really like a lot plus one experimental veggie. Kale is the experiment.

  5. Your ranch looks delightful. We hope to have a dome greenhouse this year, not a kit but a dyi, we will see. We hope to have some hydroponic/aquaculture as well. Is that what your fish and tank are working toward? Will you raise fish for food or ornamental sale or personal enjoyment? If you have time (had!who has time with a ranch and greenhouse) you can follow some of our blog exploits! Blessings and good luck! margter (Margaret)


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