Posts Tagged ‘snow’

During our last snow storm, I photographed and posted several examples of animal tracks in the snow.  I couldn’t resist sharing a new snow photograph with you, this time with the perpetrator clearly in sight.  If I had seen these paw prints without seeing the action, I might never have figured them out.  Yes, that’s front paws only, with back paws that ultimately ended up in front of the front paws.  The next leap took her several feet away.  She was attacking chunks of snow as they fell off the trees.

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After more than an inch of ice and at least half a foot of snow precipitated on us and then lingered for four days in late January and early February, I had my doubts about whether my veggie tunnels would still have viable veggies in them.  Temperatures, after all, have been running about ten degrees below normal for several weeks, and adding ice and snow on top of that did not bode well for plants that like sunshine.  It took some time to brush off the snow and break off the ice, but I’m delighted to report that almost everything survived.  Given that it was still quite cold when I took photographs, I didn’t want to take the tunnels all the way off, so “after” photographs are through the tunnels.

On November 29:

January 31:

Are those really veggie tunnels under all of that snow and ice?

Yes, and those are cold frames in the distance.

February 1:  time to take off the snow

They’re looking pretty sad.  Did anything survive?

Yes!  the veggies live!

I also dug several radishes and some carrots from the cold frames yesterday, so those too continue to thrive.

We’ve already got at least four inches more snow today (February 8), and radar shows a heavy band of snow moving in within a few hours and then more overnight, for a total of 8-12 inches.  I’ll sleep easy through this storm, though, knowing that my winter garden is surviving, snug under its tunnels of veggie love.

If you’re in the path of this latest storm (or any other) make sure you tuck in your veggies before you tuck in yourself.

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A few weeks ago the Dot Earth  blog on the New York Times included a fascinating photograph of animal tracks in the snow.  The tracks indicated a conflict between predator and prey, a raptor attacking a rodent.  Since we had a relatively big snow fall over about 36 hours here from Thursday through Saturday, I was reminded of the Dot Earth blog when I trudged out in the snow.  Following along the creek behind my husband, I almost lost his tracks when I headed uphill following another set of tracks.  We crossed them again on the bluff line, where the hoofprints were better preserved on the flatter terrain.The perpetrators were deer, who used a cut in the bluff line to get down to the creek from a nearby field.

Of course, our cats’ tracks are all over the place, including near these hundreds of bird tracks and more deer tracks.

and near these mouse or rat tracks (coming in a bit fuzzy from the left and then ending in two streaks near the feline paw print).  The good news for the mouse is that the cat tracks look older, although it does look like the mouse tracks end abruptly.  Any thoughts from readers?

These mouse (or rat) tracks fascinated me for how far that they ran across the wide expanse of snow.  The mouse ran from an old, downed pine tree to a holly bush. Then I found more tracks from the holly bush to the front porch, for a total distance of at least a hundred feet.  Was this mouse meeting up with the mouse that disappeared on the other side of the porch?

My husband also ran into Spit, the possum that hangs out around our place, last night in the alley between the house and garage.  (Actually, they both caught each other by surprise and both nearly scared each other to death, according to my husband.)  I looked this morning to see if I could see where Spit went–and where he’s been hanging out, because until last night we hadn’t seen him since the cold snap in early January.  These must be his prints, venturing out briefly and then turning around and, apparently, following a ledge around the house, to crawl under the back porch.  Spit’s prints appear raised in these photos because of oddities of photography and melting snow.And here are the possum tracks turned around on each other:

By the way, I found more mouse tracks near Spit’s tracks.  The cats better get back to work, instead of constantly begging to come into the warmth.

You may also be interested in Tracks in the Snow, Revisited, where I captured the perpetrator of a bizarrely backwards set of isolated tracks.

Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader.  Short excerpts with full links to this site are welcome.  Please contact me for permission to use photographs.

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If you are wishing you could extend your gardening season but think it’s all over when the first frost hits, you have a whole world of winter gardening awaiting your growing pleasure.  You just need to pick the right things to grow, to give them adequate protection, and to expect them to grow a bit more slowly because they’ll be getting less sun.

It may surprise you to know that one of the nation’s most famous four-seasons farms is in Maine.  Granted, Maine’s coastal waters keep it from being as cold as, say, Minnesota, but it still gets awfully darn cold.  The folks at Four Seasons Farm are real experts, but you can get a start on small-scale winter gardening here with me.  Let’s get first to the seed.

For winter gardening, you obviously need to pick vegetables that are ordinarily geared for colder weather.  Do not expect to grow anything that seed packets label “tender” without a lot of energy-intensive protection, which is not sustainable.  That means you will most likely not be successful growing peppers, squashes of any kind (winter squash isn’t called that because it grows through the winter but rather because it keeps through the winter), cucumbers, melons, or most beans.  You can, however, grow everything in the cabbage and broccoli family Red Russian Kale, most greens, many root crops, and certain herbs.  For example, basil and parsley prefer warm weather, but chervil and cilantro like it cooler.  If a seed guide recommends early spring or late summer planting, you may be able to get a winter harvest.  If anything requires pollination, expect to do it yourself with a tiny paintbrush, because the buzzies who usually do the job won’t be out and about.

Now let’s talk about protection.  Winter gardening requires you to cover crops through the coldest weather.  If you only have an occasional light frost, you can do the job with old sheets.  If you expect regular freezing weather, begin by adding mulch around tender plants and especially root crops.  Then cover with plastic or glass, being sure that the plants do not touch the covering; plants that touch the covering may freeze.  Building raised beds make covering much easier.

Here are plants in a raised bed in early February, having started their life in early January and survived several nights down to almost 0 degrees F.Seedlings in a Cold Frame I built the raised bed to fit an old window that my neighbor was replacing.  I placed the window directly on top of the wooden frame (made out of scrap wood).  On warmer days, you can slide the window back or use a small piece of wood to raise one end and let the cold frame vent hot air.

This pup-tent style grow house can be found in many forms on the internet and works well if you need something taller:  Grow Tent in the Snow Note that I did not remove ice and snow after a storm.  Those are going to be a consistent 32 degrees F, so if the air temperature is much colder, the snow actually serves as a blanket.  Just know that it reduces light, so you need to get it off eventually.

That brings me to my last warning on winter gardening.  You’ll find that crops grow much more slowly in the winter.  They also may germinate less well, so you may want to overseed.  (You can always eat the thinnings, as we did from the cold frame shown above.) Still, you’ll find that the plants will take off as soon as the sunlight starts coming back, giving you an early spring harvest that will be the envy of your gardening neighbors. April Bounty


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