Are your ready for spring? I think we are.  The seed orders are placed, and seeds are starting to arrive.  With this thaw it has really gotten us eager to start planting.  But it is still only early January. 

The winter so far hasn’t been without its challenges.  We usually don’t mind the snow, but the amount of snow we got and as quick as we got it was hard to get moved.  With our small tractor and just having the bucket it made for a slow process.  The laneway took over three hours to clean out a couple of times.  On days when we had to get the laneway cleaned out I was glad we both worked from home, and didn’t need to be out there having it cleaned out for 7am.   

 

The tunnels covered with snow.

We ended up calling on the help of others a couple of times.  Jeff and Olivia drove home at Christmas, (my parents had sent some gas gift cards so we could make it home this year) and I was overwhelmed with the snow.  I ended up calling on one of the neighbours to come down with his big tractor.  He made it look so easy with the blower and got the job done quick, at least the lane-way.  There was still the chore of removing snow off of the tunnels and greenhouses.  The greenhouses for the most part are not an issue with the sides being as steep as they are, until you get freezing rain and then the ice forms on them causing the snow to stick.  They still weren’t near as much trouble as the tunnels.

 
Cleaning the snow off the tunnels after an early snow fall


Some of the snow off the tunnel.  Letting light in for plant growth

The tunnels we were keeping cleaned off real well until Christmas.  Each time it snowed we would go out, usually just me (Carey) and clean them off.  It was lots of fun.  After Christmas though, it was too much.  The snow in between them was over my shoulders (over 4 feet) so we did not have anyplace to put the snow from the tunnels.  We had to get walkways cleaned out for the snow on the tunnels.  With the call of warm weather on the way the push was on so that they didn’t collapse. 

 

Getting snow cleaned out between the tunnels in January.

We had several volunteers come out from PEI Food Exchange to help with the snow removal.  Many hands made for lighter work, but it was still a lot of work.  The ideal situation would have been to have a five-foot blower for our tractor to take between the tunnels.  We have thought of purchasing one, but we thought we would hold off this year since we always managed on our own.  The larger blowers that the neighbours have are too wide for the spacing.  When we assembled the tunnels we had planned on equipment we would be able to operate ourselves.

We did manage to get all the snow off the tunnels safely.  We also have the barn roofs to keep clear as well.  We had 4 – 8 hour days of just snow removal.  My arms were so sore, just the thought of a shovel made them sore. 

With the cold temperatures as cold as they were for as long as they were we have lost a lot in the tunnels and greenhouses.  Winter growing is not easy, and comes with its challenges.  Most plants can withstand -15C, but not much more than that.  We have lost some of the kale that was in tunnels (they get colder than the greenhouses).  It was just too cold for too long.  It wasn’t only kale that we lost though.  A little of everything.  One of the greenhouses isn’t looking well either.   It looks like we have lost all of the swiss chard at this time, but maybe we will have some come back yet.

Don’t fret though, we have been busy starting seedlings.  I have 4 trays germinated and starting to grow.  Another couple of weeks and we will be transplanting into the greenhouses.  We have never had the ground freeze in the greenhouses, but it did this year.  Usually the sunshine allows the greenhouses to warm up each day but with the all the snowy and grey days that didn’t happen.  The ground has thawed back out but we are now waiting for the plants to be large enough to be transplanted out.  They would not germinate in the cold temperatures in the greenhouse.



Some of the snow accumulation on the tunnels.

Well with the snow almost gone and cold temperatures I wouldn’t mind a little more snow.  Just 6 inches would keep me happy.  And it doesn’t have to come all at once.  It will help to hold all the plastic in place too.  


The tunnels are cleaned off!