Sunday, December 30, 2012

Snowshoeing to the winter greens

Ok, so we didn't actually strap on our snowshoes just to visit the high tunnels, but at the end of a trek down to the back field and timber barn, we did stop in to drape additional row cover over the winter greens.

The bundles of twine hanging from the ceiling are a remnant from the summer's tomato planting. We're going to try and reuse them for this year's tomatoes. Having screwed up my shoulder during a dismount from the rings years ago, I try not to make extra work that demands holding my hands above my head.

The blanket of snow on the tunnels (and the additional row cover) kept the greens from freezing last night, despite the low temps dipping down into the teens. The plants' roots are still growing, albeit slowly with the limited day light during the short days of winter. As the days get longer, they'll pop into high gear. It looks like we'll have a decent early spring greens harvest of claytonia, mache, kale, bunching onions, and spinach.

One of the other temperature-modulation approaches we're trying is incorporating more thermal mass into the hoop house. Because of the USDA rule attached to the grant we received, we're not allowed to use any mechanical venting, heating, etc. in the tunnels. So we put a 300-gallon cube of water (visible just inside the doors in the photo below) in the north end of one of the tunnels. Despite the low outdoor temps, the tank has barely a crust of ice along the edges. This extra mass might add a critical degree or so when the outside temps really plummet.

Now that I've let out and fed the chickens, checked the high tunnels, and come back indoors for breakfast, it's time to go snowshoe down to the back fields and check a gate, or something... :-)

Or maybe I'll harvest some more brussel sprouts, if I can find them.

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