It is a delight to be the spouse of a hard working, joy-filled, dedicated man.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

North Garden, Poly Tunnels and Phenological Events

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.


Mildred said...

Georgia had a high of 67* today. It was so nice to be able to go out without a coat. I always enjoy touring with you and seeing all your projects. You have a lovely place Lanny.

Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

I've noticed frost in the shady north side of our yard too. But the days have been just beautiful. Your tunnels definitely look warmer inside than outside. I was at a nursery the other day and was told that people are out looking for tomato plants already. I think they are a little too optimistic :)
Hope you've been able to enjoy as much sun as possible.

Far Side of Fifty said...

I enjoyed your Primroses..three different colors too..we have too harsh of winters to grow them here. We still have one huge greenhouse left, I will start some lettuce out in one of the hot boxes soon...well not just yet..the thought of fresh lettuce motivates me. Great tour Lanny, I really enjoyed it:)

Don said...

Beautiful place, beautiful post

I'm ready for spring, but we have 8 inches of snow on the ground, and it is still snowing! My crocuses are not even thinking about it...yet.

Daisy said...

I enjoyed seeing your garden pretties, Lanny. I enjoyed them very much, actually. Probably because it is snowing like crazy once again here today. Schools are closed again. It is 31 degrees, and the new snow is just making another layer over the last several snows that haven't had a chance to melt away yet. As you can guess, I'm more than ready for spring to arrive. Thanks for sharing your garden. Made me smile. :D

This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

Lanny: You got some neat blooms in you garden, nice idea on protecting from the frost. My garden is still under snow.