Official: the garden season really is over

Snow-covered field means the garden season’s over!

OK, so this garden is really over for the season! Called due to extremely cold, snowy conditions that don’t seem likely to let up any time soon. I’d been counting on one more melt-off, but it’s only been freezing cold and more snow since the fall that covered it all eight days ago. And there’s no let-up in the 15-day forecast… So, I got caught out a bit. There are still carrots under there, that I might not see until spring, and I didn’t finish mulching the garlic (I think I was unconsciously pushing for a side-by-side test of mulch and no mulch, against prudent practice, and now I have one—it will be interesting…). The big experiment (and possibly, gamble) is with leaving the green manure cover crops—oats, rye—over winter, to be tilled in in spring. In the pic, you can see it’s smooth to the left of the main path, and rough on the right (at the very bottom is the composting windrow where the last of the leftovers go). The left side (plus eight sections across the north end, out of sight at the top) is fully prepped and ready to seed as soon as the ground dries out in spring (peas first!). To the right, I’ll have to wait until it’s dry enough to till with the Kubota compact tractor—determined by the weather, this could hold me back a couple of weeks. Or more. After that, again weather-dependent, there’s the minimum wait of a week or two after tilling for the cover crops to break down. But, with two-thirds of the field ready, however the weather goes, it’ll be fine!

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2 Responses to “Official: the garden season really is over”

  1. Steve Mudge says:

    Wow! What a change from last month. You’re not going to believe this but I put row cover over the tomatoes and peppers and they survived the cold northern blast last week–even a little snow! Temps back up here into the 70s again…we’re making a run for Christmas tomatoes now!

  2. Meg says:

    Great photo! So is it tiny farm planning for the next four months?

  3. Jen Carlile says:

    so, I have kind of a random question that you might be able to answer– what happens with a compost pile during the winter in cold climates? does the organic matter continue to heat up and break down, or does the pile basically freeze until spring and then start heating up again when the weather gets warm again?

  4. Mike (tfb) says:

    Steve: I haven’t thought about TOMATOES in a while…! It’s only been a couple of weeks and I’ve already forgotten what a warm, sunny day feels like!! I’ve been through much more severe cold than this, but not recently…

    Meg: Mmmm, months of quiet contemplation of the freezing, barren land… If I weren’t so focussed on farming, I could probably take time off in December or maybe early Jan, but the farming really doesn’t stop. I’m planning to try onions from seed this year, and get a good early start on herbs, so the seedling room will be going in January. Anyhow, I intend to keep posting daily or so, so you won’t miss any of the indoor farming action! ;)

    Jen: Both! My pile (it’s a windrow 50′ long and about 3′ high and 3-4′ wide at the base) at least partially freezes, and not much goes on till the weather warms up again. But, with an active mix (good brown-green carbon:nitrogen ratio) and regular turning, plus some cover, like a tarp, hot compositing can continue in extremely cold weather. I haven’t tried so far, but when there were lots of cows here, a couple years back, you could plow into the big manure pile behind the barn in the middle of Feb and inside it’d be steaming away… Nice and toasty!

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