"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

Friday, March 20, 2009

Our Boreal Garden

Spring is here somewhere, we were able to catch a glimpse of her today as the sun shown down upon us off and on throughout the afternoon. On last evenings news our most jovial weatherman happily informed us, it's quite obvious he does not garden, that we are approaching a new record of 129 days below 40°, only seven more days to go...as a gardener I was so not excited. The good news is that not a single snowflake has fallen all week and the weatherman's record will not be broken as today it was easily 50° out, and that gives me hope.

The moose are shedding their winter coats, geese are flying overhead - stopping to sun themselves on the ice covered lake, and the chickens are scratching around looking for bugs under the trees where the ground is bare.

Then there's us, trying to plant things in the snow...foolish humans. This is another of those occasions, that I usually regret, which against my better judgment and in over enthusiastic jubilation I shake a fist at the weather and demand to be able to grow something outside.

In all honesty this is a somewhat tried and true method that I have used for a few years now as I am a very impatient gardener and refuse to be entirely at the mercy of the weather. Much too impatient to wait for all this snow to thaw. So on this first day of spring we proceeded to plant more spinach, cress, mustard, various other greens along with some Russian kale rootstock in the salad green section of our snow covered garden. Under the row covers the soil was totally thawed and was noticeably warm today as we worked it in preparation for seed sowing. If only I could do this to my whole garden, but we do have about fourteen 30 - 60' rows like this which allow me a fairly good start, mostly on salad greens, onions, leeks, and early brassicas.

This winter was particularly hard on our winter greens and many did not pull through, but enough did, and enough is as much as we needed. The spinach in the cold frames is starting to abound with life, but for some reason one of my hardiest greens, corn mache, had to be replanted as only a few managed to survive the cold.

We experienced a few too many freeze and thaw cycles which inevitably breaks down the plants cells and they begin to fail. It also did not help that a few of our row covers collapsed under the weight of snow and even though I was able to fix them the damage to the plants had already been done. Many winter greens can freeze and thaw quite a few times with no problem but if crushed while frozen that's all she wrote.

Hopefully spring will soon emerge in all it's glory and the barren white can become green and full of life again. Soon winter will be long forgotten and other challenges will take it's place, the frigid boreal garden will be replaced with a lush summer garden and we will once again feast on the delicacies thereof.


randi moore said...

Without doubt this is my favorite blog, I can SO relate as we have about the same amount of snow. I actually dug off more than a foot of snow to dig a few parsnips today..But the reason I write is that I am fascinated with your hoops, can you tell us how you constructed them? (If you've already done so in an older post please shove me in that direction)...as ever a thank you from a fellow long suffering snowy!

Mr. H said...


I would be more then happy to show you how the row covers are set up. It is pouring rain today but when/if it lets up I will take a few pictures and do a quick post...my next post.


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