One thing the melting snow did reveal yesterday was that my arugula is still alive—doing quite well, in fact! I can't say the same for the lettuce, sadly: the plants never grew very big, constrained as they were both by the cold and by the low light that made its way to them through two layers of heavy row cover fabric. Being smushed under snow when the the plastic hoops deformed under the weight of the accumulation was the last straw, and while most of the plants are technically still alive I feel kind of bad for them because they are so clearly not thriving. The kale is somewhere in between those two extremes—not growing, but apparently otherwise unfazed by the temperatures—so at this point I'm starting to wonder if it can manage to overwinter and give us an early crop in the spring!
There's no getting too excited, of course, because who knows what this bizarro winter will bring next. At least the extreme thaw let me finally get the hoses inside, a task I entirely neglected earlier thanks to our lack of real snow experience over the last 20+ months. We're told there's a little snow in the forecast for tonight and tomorrow, so we will see.
Even if all my outdoor plants are extinguished, I must say I won't be unhappy to see more snow. It turns out I don't have that much taste for arugula in the winter anyways, and struggling all the way through the winter probably wouldn't give the kale that much of a head start over seeds planted in early spring. And I actually enjoy snow in the garden: besides insulating the soil, preventing run-off, and even delivering a little bit of nitrogen from the atmosphere, it also looks pretty. If you ask me, nothing is nicer on the winter farm than some well-trodden paths.
You can see that I was so excited about making paths that I had that one quite well-trodden before we had even filled the next bucket of compost. Here's hoping tomorrow's snow will give me more treading experience.