In my last post I stressed the need to ventilate your high tunnel and pull back any interior covers on warm and/or sunny days. This is also a great time to do some spring cleaning. Since you will have the plants exposed take this opportunity to remove any dead and frost damaged plant matter. In my tunnels I had lettuce heads, salad mix, mustards and spinach that were mature and harvested by December 31st. There were also two beds of spinach that were left mature and were harvested on January 23rd. All of these beds have greater or lesser amounts of left-over plant matter that will need to be removed before new growth begins this month. By doing so we are trying to eliminate the host material for diseases to form and proliferate. There were even fully mature plants of spinach that I cut back just for safety sake. What you will want to do is cut back the plants to 1 inch from the soil surface, place plant matter into a bin, and place in compost pile or remove from the high tunnel entirely. Even lettuce plants most of the time will make a comeback with some spring growth. If there are beds that you know you will be transitioning to another crop, you can just work the plants back into the soil, unless of course there is disease present, then you will need to remove plants and sterilize the bed surface before tillage.
On the other hand, if you have baby plants like spinach or mache that were planted specifically to over -winter, and they are looking lively and disease free, you can just let them do their thing. You should start seeing significant growth on these plants in the coming weeks. If the soil isn’t too frozen this is also a great time to do some weeding around these plants. You can also consider tilling and direct seeding a new crop (salad mix, spinach, kale, chard, turnips, arugula) that will be harvested before May 15th.
Spring is right around the corner!
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