Good morning Dear Reader. Got your boots on again? I was thinking I would take you on a tour of North Garden. But instead of doing it all in one day I would stretch it out all during the week.
North Garden is not the most northern spot on the Farm, north and south speaking it lies rather in the middle, and very much on the east line, save for the driveway. But it is the most northern of the permanent garden beds and so has been dubbed North Garden.
This is what the exposed garden soil looked like this morning. It has been clear and warm during the day and clear at night. Because of the clear nights the nightly lows have dipped down past thirty-two and so we have been waking to a good frost these last few mornings.
However, I have a low poly tunnel on one of the beds here in North Garden as a season extender.
In past posts I showed how I construct these: short rebar sunk in on the each edge of the raised beds about five feet apart or more; ten foot pvc pipe arched over the bed and slipped down on the exposed foot and half to two feet of rebar; six mil poly placed over the hoops; extra at the ends to cover and lap over; two x twos stapled to the bottom edges of the poly to hold it in place (this works way better than the clip system I use to use).
This is a shot of the soil under the poly tunnel, taken at the same time of day as the soil picture above. I didn't take the thermometer with me to get an actual reading but the soil is soft and not the least bit effected by the frost outside of the tunnel.
If the temps got much lower or if I had frost tender things under here (right now I just have some spinach and beets started) I would put floating row cover directly on the bed to add five to ten more degrees to the soil temperature. In fact the floating row cover is under there it is just scootched over to one side. I wanted to see how the poly tunnel would do all by itself now that it is getting way more sun during the day with the trees gone.
The late winter and early spring beauties that normally take winter on the chin so well are really doing nicely with the sorta winter we are experiencing here in the PNW.
The buds on the fruit trees are still very tight where they need a bit more time and protection which makes sense because even in a normal year the apple trees bud nearly two months after daffodil season with the cherries blooming just before the apples.
The only buds I see swelling are the ones that can take it in stride. I'm no expert and there is always room in my life for flukes (understatement of the year eh? beings that I'm nearly a fluke depend-er) but I really think that we have more chances of having a bad bud-damaging freeze on the fruit trees in a more "normal" winter than this one.
Funny how we have a tendency to run around in late summer and look at the fuzz or the size of caterpillars or the coloring on the birds or when they leave and arrive as signs of how deep our winter will be. But when it comes to spring we listen to a ground hog on a particular day at a particular time and whether or not he sees his shadow. Then we wring our hands with worry, completely doubting the trustworthy phenological events, like the blooming of the Indian Plum or the emergence of naturalized daffodils.
Lots of things come into play with the phenological events, length of daylight, consistent soil temperatures, chemical reactions (and biochemical reactions) because of those soil temperatures. It doesn't all hinge on ambient air temperatures. It has to all come together.
I'm still a young pup, I don't have eighty years of experience watching the weather in the PNW, but from the view of the few years I do have, I'd say that the phenological signs are to be trusted. We are several weeks ahead of normal and we'll be okay, despite what the doom and gloom-ers on the weather segment late at night have to say.
But then again farming and gardening is always gamble and not for the faint of heart.