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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Poor Man's Fertilizer

Like most of the USA we have been inundated by snow. I believe we have had around 21" fall this month and we still have a couple of weeks and at least one more snow storm to get through.

A hoop house covered in snow

So far we have not lost any hoop houses but it is not easy to get into any of them. The one you can walk to fairly easily has its' entrance covered with a 4' deep drift that extends about 10' out from the house. the other houses have no drifts in front of them but you have to slog through about 1/4 mile of beautiful powder in drifts up to 3.5' deep (and an average depth of 2'). So no one has been in them since I harvested greens for a customer and Eugene hoed beds the 4th of February. I suspect things are growing in the houses as the days are certainly longer and we have had several sunny days which means the hoop houses got above freezing (likely well above freezing).

Deep snow means you can't do a whole lot around the farm. We have started kale and lettuce seeds to go along with the onion, leek and shallot seedlings but other than putting the kale and lettuce germinants into 2" soil blocks as they germinate and watering everyone about every other day (over watering kills more innocent baby plants than anything else) takes maybe 4 hours a week. Fruit trees and brambles need to be pruned but at the moment that is an impossible task. We have to wait until the snow quits accumulating and starts melting.

The packing shed in winter

The snow melt is likely gonna be problematic. We have over 10" on the ground and there are a lot of piles and drifts that are much deeper all over SW Ohio. If we are lucky we will get warmish dry conditions and the snow will slowly and safely sublimate away. But what is much more likely to happen is rain which will clear away the snow in a matter of hours instead of a matter of weeks but this will also cause flooding. I am rooting for the quick fix and possible floods, otherwise we will not be able to prune, work the ground or transplant early crops until well into March and than we will be facing an overwhelming task of getting a lot done in a very short amount of time without a lot of help.

Betty in her element

The good news about the snow is Betty LOVES it. To her snow is the best thing since sliced bread. Little does she know that soon it will all be gone. of course when it goes away her bones and other toys will reappear and vole hunting will likely be easier. And there is likely to be a very healthy vole (and other small rodent) population this spring as deep snow is the perfect thing for small prey animals. iIt hides them from predators and it keeps them insulated from extreme cold and wind.

Chicken tractors just about covered by drifts. It's a good thing we don't have any right now, they would be miserable

The other good thing about the deep snow is it is keeping all our over wintered crops like the garlic and asparagus nice and cold. one problem with bare soil in winter is when if freezes and thaws you get frost heave which will heave bulbs and plants all the way out of the soil where they will die. A nice layer of snow stops this sort of thing from happening. Plus the snow will leave behind things like phosphates in the soil which are always welcome. Old time farmers call snow the poor man's fertilizer

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