Challenges of cold and winter

If you've ever planted a garden in the northeast, you know what I'm talking about.

A relatively short growing season translates to occasional challenges. 

Adaptation

This fall, we constructed a high tunnel (also called a hoop house) which is basically an unheated greenhouse. (And in typical biting-off-more-than-we-can-chew fashion, it wasn't finished until January.)

Our goal is to extend our season by a month or two in both spring and fall. We knew from the beginning it would be necessary if we wanted to be successful growing flowers in a cold climate. 

In February we planted out what will become our first spring flowers. It is still blowing my mind that I can plant something in February in Vermont.

Mother Nature's been keeping us on our toes ever since. Unseasonably warm sunny days brought sprouts to the surface quickly, providing some real instant gratification.

As I write this, we're in the midst of the second weekend in a row of sub-zero nighttime temperatures. Cue incessant nail biting.

Cover, uncover, repeat

Those first plantings, they're super hardy, but still require babying. I constructed low hoops over the beds that hold a double-layer of the thickest frost protective blanket I can get my hands on. I cover them late afternoon. The next day, I check the forecasted temperature, cloud cover, and wind to determine when (or if) they will be uncovered, and decide how much to vent the hoop house. 

As wonderful as it will be to have flowers in - April? Maybe! - it does require my days be structured around this...structure. Just the other day I had to rush home before completing errands because the sun came out (it wasn't forecasted to). Even on a very cold day, the temperature would quickly rise to an unacceptable level in the hoop house with the frost blankets still on and no venting. 

Eye on the prize

Flowers. In April. In Vermont. I hope so - and I can't wait to share them with you!