I check the weather forecast almost every time I get online, which means I often check it several times a day -- because I might look for the daily highs one time, then look at the lows, then have to check again because I can't remember what the precipitation chances were. And then they change. Quite regularly. Especially when cold fronts are involved. Supposedly, cold fronts are less predictable than warm fronts.
|Winter Density Romaine.|
I was not pleased when I saw that Sunday night's low was supposed to hit 17 degrees Fahrenheit.
"Ack! My lettuces!" was my immediate response. The weather had been quite lovely for November. Cold enough for a fire in the stove, but not so bitter I had to worry about the lettuce and cabbage and other cold-weather vegetables in the garden.
I knew the hard weather was coming, however. By Thanksgiving last year, I had the lettuce tucked under a plastic "low tunnel," with lights and black buckets full of water, and all kinds of contraptions for adding a few extra degrees of warmth. If you were around the blog last year, you read my tale of near disaster on the night before Thanksgiving. The weather this year was a bit kinder. Yet I had intended to put the plastic over my lettuce beds last week, so I wouldn't have to rush.
But, the forecast said rain on Friday. After this dry summer, I was not going to pass up a chance to get rain on the garden, so I postponed the plastic application. About an inch of rain fell Friday night, a very nice amount. I was glad the lettuces had gotten a final drink.
|Rouge Grenobloise Lettuce. Don't ask me to pronounce it.|
When I saw the 17 degrees forecast for Sunday night, my heart sank. No time to do anything Saturday. No time before heading out on Sunday morning. I could look forward to hauling out the old sheets and blankets to cover the lettuce beds after getting home Sunday night. Yay.
So, after a feastful day with my family on Sunday, I arrived home after dark, put away the leftovers, changed into warm clothes and went out to the garden with a wheelbarrow full of old sheets and blankets. Frost was already forming on the grass and everything else by the time I went out. It was dark under a moonless sky. The outdoor light on the side of the garage gave marginal illumination of the garden.
|Young Deerstongue Lettuce, still growing.|
I went inside and immediately checked the forecast again, hoping for another change. Maybe 17 was a mistake. Good. They increased the low... to 19.
My husband asked about the brussels sprouts and other greens. Would they be OK? Should they be covered, too?
Oh, I don't know. (Big heavy sigh.) I'd have to get into the attic above the garage to get more sheets and blankets (which meant moving the cars), then go out into the cold, dark night. That's a lot of hassle.
How would you feel if you lost all of our winter greens? my husband asked.
|Royal Oakleaf Lettuce. Very robust.|
We moved the cars and got more sheets and blankets out of the attic, piled them in a wheelbarrow and went back out into the cold, dark night. This time I say we, which made the task easier to swallow.
Then we went to bed. The thermometer fell to 24 by the time we rose at 5:34 a.m.
I went out late Monday morning, when the thermometer had risen to the mid 30s. Shady spots still had frost on the ground, but the sun was shining and the air was calm, so it was pretty comfortable working in the garden. Later in the day, I had to take off my coat because I was sweating, although the temperature didn't get above 45.
|A tiny little cauliflower head -- Finally!|
Tonight's low is suppose to only fall to 29. Then tomorrow night it falls into the upper teens again. I guess winter has entered the stage.
I don't know whether I will bother with lights in the lettuce beds again. I did leaves some row cover scrunched to the side under the plastic tunnels, so I can easily cover the lettuces on the chillier nights. The sheets and blankets also will remain at ready for the really cold nights.
Now I will need to vent the plastic tunnels whenever the weather is warmer than 45 and sunny, so it doesn't get too hot in there. (Keep my eye on the weather forcast, whether it's up or down.) But the lettuce should keep growing for a little while, and with any luck, the radish seed I planted while the tunnels were open will sprout and give us early spring radishes. I haven't tried that before. We'll see. The garden is always an experiment.
|Two Jersey Wakefield Cabbages and a romaine.|