Monday, 14 April 2014

In The Rapidly Changing Garden

I took these photos on Thursday or Friday - they are already out of date. Almost all the snow has melted. I took the photos as we did our first walk-around of the garden for the year. Since then, we've been able to get into the garden and do some work. Already, as you can see, we have a rudimentary "greenhouse" set up on the driveway, so we can bring out our seedlings to get real sunlight and warmth that doesn't involve a staggering Hydro bill. 

The ex-ice cream freezer is now a mini greenhouse as well. We did not get it planted as early as we had hoped, because it stayed cold for so long. Even once it had warmed up enough for us to plant it, we had wild temperature swings, where it would get up to 20°C in the day, and then go down to -20°C at night in the freezer. In spite of those extremes, things are sprouting nicely and growing well. There is broccoletto (rapini), miner's lettuce, bok choy, and mache in there. I'm seeing probably everything but the mache, and in the last few days there has been another rash of sprouting, so I'm hoping that turns out to be it.

 Here are the wet beds, showing how they got the name. It's still far too squishy to really even get near to them, never mind work in them. When I took this photo, we were afraid that my lovely Turkish leeks were all dead, but since then they have had a miraculous recovery, and are starting to stand up and green up again.

We had two hoop houses up with greens under them over the winter. They both collapsed. Some of that conduit (the hoops) may be salvageable, but about half of it probably won't be. Same with the wood. After considering the situation, Mr Ferdzy thinks that his supports might have been strong enough if he had used longer screws. I talked him out of completely replacing them with metal conduit, better wood, etc - we are not aiming to produce the world's most expensive vegetables here, and sometimes you get an unusually bad winter. Them's the breaks.

This is our spinach; you can see how one side had the plastic right on the bed with the snow on top. In spite of being completely flattened, the spinach is already recovering.  

Many of our little fruit trees and shrubs are badly broken. The combination of heavy snow and wind early in the winter followed by cold temperatures that lasted all winter without a thaw meant that things were flattened early, and never had a chance to get back up. I think most of them will survive, but they will definitely be set back quite a bit. 

 One of the broken hoop houses.

The asparagus supports are also pretty smashed up. Lots of clean-up work to be done, once the snow melts. This is the one spot where there is still a noticeable amount of snow - this set of beds is in more shade than is strictly ideal. Still, it's melting and we will be able to get at it within a week, if not in a couple of days.

A view inside the other collapsed hoop house. This one has lettuce and miner's lettuce in it. We seeded heavily, but as usual with lettuce in our garden it germinated pretty spottily. We should have removed the plastic right away after I took this picture, but we left it on until the next day - and it got so hot that quite a lot of the lettuce was frizzled! Not so frizzled it won't recover. I'm hoping to eat a salad from the garden within a week, between the lettuce and the spinach.

Meanwhile, we have planted two beds with short determinate peas (Tom Thumb and Strike) One more to be done by the 15th, as these three beds will be pulled out and replanted with beans around July 1st. We'll cover them with hoop houses if it looks like getting too cold again. Other peas can be planted in a more leisurely fashion. We've also planted a bed with bok choy, mizuna (new to us), mache, miner's lettuce, tat-soi, and green onions - all the walking onions I left in the garden last fall are now sprouting, and rather than compost them all I decided to save some for green onions. You can expect to see a bunch of green onion recipes here in about a month, I guess.

Lots of rain expected this week so things will probably slow down again. We were pleased and relieved to be able to get out and get as much done as we did in the last few days. We are not actually that far behind schedule as a result, in spite of how very late this spring has been.


Kelly said...

Sorry to see so much damage at your place. It still looks hopeful though! I had quite a bit of frost raised beds heaved quite a bit and there was a bit of a dirt landslide. Lost a row or two of garlic.

Ferdzy said...

It was a pretty wild winter, eh Kelly? I'm glad it's over. Apart from the fact that we are supposed to get MOAR SNOW tomorrow... and the rabbits ate our lettuce already... grumble, grumble...

Marnie said...

Any trouble with deer eating your stuff over the winter? I know a lot of little trees and shrubs got a severe pruning around my father's place north of Owen Sound, because the deer were (literally) starving.

Ferdzy said...

Hi Marnie! No, no deer. The deer fence is doing its job, and even if they had gotten in, I would say we had 3 to 4 feet of snow consistently through most of the back yard until just a week or three ago, so the little shrubs would mostly have been covered. I was actually more worried about mice - I've seen some terrible mouse damage around - but we didn't clean the brassicas out of the garden before it snowed, and they seem to have gone to town on them instead. Suits me. But yeah, it's been a hard winter. I've been seeing more deer close to the road lately when I've been out - they are definitely making the decision to get closer to people in order to find food... damn, I will be glad when it warms up and things start to grow.

Unknown said...

A wonderful post (All your posts are very informative) I had the same thing happen with plastic electrical conduit hoop tunnels - they will not support a heavy snow load and deform permanently. I finally switched to half inch galvanized metal conduit. I checked the overwintered rutabagas today under such a tunnel - Gilfeather, Melford, American Purple Top and "Famille Fortin (Fortin's family - an heirloom variety from Quebec) and they all seemed to have survived. But same issue - if one is not mindful of the poly covering on the first of the sunny days in early spring, they will be fried! Thanks for your wonderful blog!

Ferdzy said...

And thank you for your comment, Unknown! Mr. Ferdzy is talking about galvanized conduit, but it seems expensive to me! Maybe we should just replace the plastic ones as they go.