Things are kind of messy inside the greens tunnel, but everything is still very much alive. And growing!Things are kind of messy inside the greens tunnel, but everything is still very much alive. And growing!
Spinach, escarole and lettuces. The temperature was above 40F.Spinach, escarole and lettuces. The temperature was above 40F.
Mesclun mixMesclun mix
Even though there's snow on the ground, there is condensation inside the above-freezing cold framesEven though there's snow on the ground, there is condensation inside the above-freezing cold frames
Leeks will winter over with little to no protection. I have them hilled up with straw.Leeks will winter over with little to no protection. I have them hilled up with straw.
Row cover and plastic make double cold protectionRow cover and plastic make double cold protection
Low tunnel over the fall-planted onions, and wintering over leeksLow tunnel over the fall-planted onions, and wintering over leeks
Cold frames for lettuces and low tunnel for greensCold frames for lettuces and low tunnel for greens
  • Things are kind of messy inside the greens tunnel, but everything is still very much alive. And growing!
  • Spinach, escarole and lettuces. The temperature was above 40F.
  • Mesclun mix
  • Even though there's snow on the ground, there is condensation inside the above-freezing cold frames
  • Leeks will winter over with little to no protection. I have them hilled up with straw.
  • Row cover and plastic make double cold protection
  • Low tunnel over the fall-planted onions, and wintering over leeks
  • Cold frames for lettuces and low tunnel for greens

I’m back from an unintentional period of winter hibernation. Without floundering through a page of excuses (which, in my defense, are justifiably life-changing), I hope you will accept this as the closest thing I have to a signed excusal note from my mother.

—————–

What started as a repeat of last year’s non-winter has suddenly and unexpectedly turned into a quasi-normal Missouri winter (if there is such a thing) – complete with snow.

I had the cold frames in place and row cover over the greens and fall-planted onions when the weather started to get cool. The row cover seems to be sufficient for temperatures hovering around frost. Lower temperatures require more protection, though, and that means plastic.

When the first substantially cold nights came, I had to hastily throw plastic sheeting over the low tunnels. I don’t really have a good system in place yet for holding the plastic down in the wind and ensuring that it doesn’t collapse under the weight of rain or snow. Right now I’m just holding it down with bricks, which is neither especially a) effective or b) attractive. Eliot Coleman describes a twine tensioning system in Four-Season Harvest, and I plan to get that in place as soon as I have a day warm enough to thaw the soil so I can get the stakes in the ground.

The good news, though, is that even this hastily and not especially well thought out system is working. The cold frames are working beautifully, and are keeping the baby mesclun greens actively growing, not just surviving. And just a couple days ago I harvested about a pound of Lacinato kale, curly kale and Swiss chard from inside the plastic-protected low tunnel.

We are still feeding ourselves (and with fresh foods, even!) in January. It’s WORKING!!!

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