Forcing It

Over the weekend, we put a tunnel over half of our asparagus bed:

To do this, Kirk hammered a stake into the dirt first to make some guide holes for the PVC. We don't normally need to do that, but this early in the season the dirt isn't thoroughly warmed and soft. The idea here is that the heat that is strapped under the plastic will trick our asparagus into coming up earlier than it normally would. This will hopefully extend our harvest by a few weeks, and we'll still have the other half of the asparagus coming up at its natural time. 

Good thing we got that in place, because we are suffering all kinds of soil setbacks, with yet another day of snow yesterday. Here's what it looks like today:

So at least half of our asparagus bed is protected and warming on this, the official first day of spring. As you can see in the photo above, we had to shovel snow off of the raised bed in the foreground. We didn't do that for the whole garden, but we did take the time to clear snow from the sections that we are planning to plant this month. Getting most of the snow off should allow what's left to melt in just another day, and for the soil to dry out enough to be worked when we are ready to plant on the weekends. There are still sections that need to be turned and chicken-scratched, so this extra effort at helping the thaw along is an important step in keeping us on our planting schedule. 

Another way of forcing spring to happen here is with our portable chicken run. Before the snow we moved it to the section that we need to plant next and used a tarp as a roof. This kept that area from getting too snowy, as you can see. This was effective if not pretty, and after drying out today, it will be ready for the chickens to make their last pass at tilling before we plant more lettuces in cold frames this weekend.

And speaking of cold frames, it's nice to have some proof that all of our forcing schemes just  might work:

If you look carefully, you can see the lettuce seedlings that we sowed two weeks ago in another cold frame. These are doing well, growing in their warm(er) little microclimate despite the snow and wind outside. So we're not crazy to be out in the wind, digging and sowing and trying to keep the snow off our our soil for early plantings. Keeping the glass and plastic in place should get us a much earlier harvest than we've had in the past ... regardless of how crazy we must look to the neighbors!


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