snow in the garden

Snow is good for the garden. It protects the soil from erosion, it insulates the plants that are still in the ground—garlic and various herbs—and we're told it even supplies a little bit of nitrogen captured from the atmosphere, giving rise to the old adage that it's "the poor man's fertilizer". Plus it just looks pretty.

The only downside to snow it that it collapsed the low tunnels we put up to keep a few greens going over the winter. We were harvesting lettuce, arugula, and swiss chard well into December, and the arugula even hung on into January. There were also a number of kale plants that never got big enough to harvest, and for all I know they're still alive, entombed in their row cover under the remaining foot of snow. The low tunnels were definitely a step up in our winter gardening efforts, but we introduced them following a nearly snow-free winter. Next winter maybe we can upgrade to proper cold frames, sloped to shed snow.

In the picture above you may notice the paths in the snow. It makes us feel like real farmers to have to clear our way through the drifts in order to do the chores; which means, in our case, to the chicken coop and the compost pile, both of which need to be visited daily. Two years ago it took snowshoes and a shovel to make a path, and it lasted for nearly three months. This year didn't see quite so much snow, but it was enough to make us feel like we had a winter.

One path we should add the next time there's a big snowfall is from the chicken coop to the other side of the yard, where the area under the holly bushes and hemlock trees is the always the first to melt down to bare ground. That's where the hens want to be when they're out roaming, but they definitely do not approve of walking in show deeper than their legs are long. Don't worry girls, you'll have lawn to graze again before too long.