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Inside the toasty high tunnel,
vegetables protected under cloth for coldest nights

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Lettuces

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Chard, Broccoli, Kale

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Kale, without extra protection on freezing nights

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A Winter Basket of Greens

Adapting
to changing growing conditions
due to global warming,
Oklahoma gardeners
are finding new ways
and new times
to grow vegetables.
Along with many others,
we have built an unheated greenhouse,
a “high tunnel,”
surrounded with plastic
to grow vegetables in winter
and, the top covered with shade cloth,
to grow vegetables in the blistering summer.
This is the first winter for our effort here,
and the crops
are flourishing.
Carrots, Beets, Broccoli
Lettuces, Chard, Kale.
The high tunnel is toasty
during the day,
even with the wind howling
across the plastic.
On the nights this week
the thermometer recorded
freezing temperature,
Ann added a later of cloth
and some hay.
The kale not covered in cloth
wilted. Those under the cloth
are untouched by the cold.
Eliot Coleman,
who taught us this system
a few years ago when he spoke in Oklahoma,
says that his high tunnels bring his Maine winter conditions
down to New Jersey’s conditions;
when he adds the extra cloth,
it’s like the plants are growing in Georgia.
We were sold when we saw photos
of his March crop of green beans!
We’re seeing it for ourselves now.
We have enough greens
to share with rabbits and chickens
as well as feed ourselves.
We have already roasted
a batch of tennis-ball-size beets,
and they are scrumptious.
In fact,
this winter’s vegetable crop
may top summer’s,
which the last two years
has had to be mostly abandoned
by July.
Maybe we can adapt!
We are heartened!