Tuesday, January 18, 2011

This is a Different Year

This has been a winter of snow - over 100 inches so far in this area. It also seems colder than usual, the January "thaw" having been two days of temperatures in the high 30s, low 40s right around New Year's Day.

I looked back at last year's posts to see what was happening at this time last year. I had just put the first of the new cold frames in the garden and there was certainly snow there then - looks like it had packed down to about 8-10 inches. But I wrote about sunny days when the temperature inside the new frame was in the 60s. I recall that there were days when the air temperature got into the 80s. That's not this year.

A photo of what the cold frames look like now would show some humps in the snow. I did clear them off back when it was warmer in early January but they are covered again.

One of the things I am doing now is planning this year's garden. I have a lot of old cedar fence slats that are rotting behind the shed. I removed some that had been near the wall under the eaves of the shed and were still in pretty good shape and have those in the garage, but when spring comes I need to sort out the rest. Maybe I have enough to make 4' by 3' or 5' by 3' frames to put into the garden to help in planning. That would divide the garden up into smaller areas that might be easier to plan and easier to keep the plans from year to year. It is helpful to know where the tomatoes and peppers and potatoes have been grown in past year to try and maintain a rotation but I haven't kept such records.

I did a presentation at Edible Gardening CNY about planning a garden and it has encouraged me to do a better job of that in our own garden. I've accumulated the facts about spacing, time to plant, time to expect harvesting to begin (and end), and which plants don't grow well together and will use that to plan each bed.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year's Day

I cleaned the snow off the cold frames yesterday (New Year's Eve) because we are having a warm spell (around 50 degrees). I took the covers off today so that the rain could reach the plants and then covered them at sunset (which is currently 4:36). There hasn't been any noticeable growth, which is not surprising considering that the glass has been covered with snow for at least three weeks. I was a little surprised that the mache plants hadn't grown at all because they are supposed to grow through the winter - but apparently that requires more light than passes through several feet of snow.

Yesterday was a sunny day. The soil temperature was around 45 degrees in each of the cold frames that I tested.

It will get cold again tomorrow, although the day time highs will be around freezing for the next few days. I plan to put the foam covers on the two frames that have them and will remove the covers if it is to be a sunny day. If it snows I will probably let the other two frames be covered with snow. The fifth frame, where I have always planted lettuce, remains covered with snow since I know that the lettuce isn't going to grow until March and it is not large enough to pick. I am hoping to pick a little kale from the frames sometime this winter. The kale plants look good.

The only plants that look like they haven't survived are some small arugula transplants. I don't think they were large enough, but who knows if they are just sitting there waiting for better conditions.

Indoors, we had our second picking of lettuce from the plants in the cellar. This time I only harvested leaves from one of the original three trays and got just a little over three ounces, about the same as I picked from all three trays earlier.