"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Saturday, January 10, 2009

There Is Nothing Like Salad Fresh Out Of The Garden In January

What a crazy winter this is turning out to be, we already have over 70" of snow and winter is still in it's infancy. Pulling fresh greens out of the garden has proven to be quite a challenge this year.

We have 14 rows of greens that are anywhere from 30-60' long and we have to shovel the snow away to get into them.

Normally, least wise within the last 5 years, we do not get this much snow all at once. I have had a couple of my row covers collapse under the weight of the snow as I did not get them shoveled off fast enough. They will handle around 1 1/2 feet of snow before they start to buckle under the pressure. The row cover in the picture is 3' tall and the snow to the left of it is over 5'.

Is it worth the hassle of digging through all that snow? It is to us. We eat salads year round from our own garden and never have to question where they came from or what has been done to them. Greens are also fed to the chickens - they certainly appreciate their daily rations and reward us with eggs all year. The salad greens below were picked the day after an -8°F degree night.

These were picked a week later when it got back up to almost 30°F

For whatever reason the crops in the row covers

do better than the ones in our cold frames and we are still trying to perfect growing greens for the winter in our unheated greenhouse.

I am always looking to improve the sturdiness of our row covers as it would appear that the winters around here are going to get a bit harsher. This is the front of our house 5 days ago.


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Scarecrow said...

You are covering your crops to keep off snow while I cover mine to keep off the heat.
We are expecting temps over 100F here today. With hot winds...and high fire danger!
Extremes of weather on opposite sides of the world...but we still grow our own food.
Well done!

Mr. and Mrs. H said...

100°, I dream of summer but would rather keep my winter then deal with firestorms and extreme heat with no water. Have you ever read "Growing Vegetables South of Australia" by Steve Solomon. He has some interesting ideas on gardening with little water. http://www.soilandhealth.org/index.html

Mr. H

By the way, I love your info on water wicking beds.

Kelly said...

I just started reading your posts as my wife and I begin to plan for our garden this spring. You and Mrs. H are an inspiration. I can't imagine the efforts you endure to keep the snow off during the winter, and I can only offer my thoughts on what I would try (no actual experience). If you add a second layer of plastic sheeting that is draped over a taught cable 6 feet high, running the length of the row - kind of like a long tent - maybe the snow would be easier to deal with after it collects on the sides rather than on top of the plastic. Maybe you could deploy it only when snow is expected, or maybe it would help insulate enough to be worth adding on the extra cold nights, too. I don't know, but I would try it on one row as a test for sure.
Good luck to you for the 2010/2011 winter season.

Mr. H. said...

Kelly - Thank you so much for the thoughtful advice and I can see how that might work. Two people could easily slide the whole cover to one end when it is not needed, I will think on this some more and perhaps try it out on one of our rows next season....thank you.:)

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