Monday, December 31, 2018

Snow Is Heavy, Frost Shelter is Flat!

Engineering Failure: Will the Plants Survive?

We had several inches of snow overnight in late December. Light fluffy powder snow that squashed my frost cover!  More snow and sub-freezing daytime temperatures are forecast so I am going to wait until that is over before I dig down to see if the plants are alive.

It's flat.
 It's clear that I need some vertical support for the arches. I wasn't even thinking of possible snow weight, because high winds were the immediate threat. 

This on-line snow load calculator says there were 50 to 60 pounds of snow being held up by slender wires and some frost cloth.

Will the Plants Survive?

I hope so. I'll post when I find out. Read more!

Monday, December 3, 2018

How Do Frost Cloth Covers Trap Heat?

Garden Science

The leafy greens in the raised bed are thriving under the frost cloth tent. They've been planted out about a month and I am harvesting leaves. Harvest one leaf per plant and I can decorate a sandwich. Salads will come later.
One Month's Growth of Bok Choi

I always assumed that frost cloth worked by trapping heat under it, with stored heat from the ground keeping the air temperature above freezing. But I got curious and when I had the plants uncovered to water and weed them, I put a wireless remote thermometer under the tent.

Temperature? I recorded the temperature under the cloth and from an online personal weather station a block away periodically from 2PM until about 1PM the next day.
Read more!

Monday, October 29, 2018

Frost Cover Support: Rev 3.0 "Ladder Mesh"

The best version yet!

My first version of a frost cover support for winter vegetables was cobbled together in a hurry from available material with a cold front roaring down from Canada.  It was fast and effective but not convenient. The so-called "improved version" was not much better. This winter I took the time to think through the requirements for the supports before the freezes get here. Planning!  It works!

Improved Frost Cloth Support

Read more!

Monday, June 18, 2018

Killing Trees That Sprout From the Roots

All It Takes Is Patience, Herbicide (optional) and a Shovel

Black locust, (Robinia pseudoacacia),  Tree of Heaven, (Ailanthus altissima), and a few other shrubs and trees are notorious for coming back from the roots if you cut the main plant. In the wild they make large thickets, in the landscape they make a mess.

We removed a cluster of volunteer Ailanthus trees because they were wrecking the fence, endangering the neighbor's power lines and providing too much shade on the flower bed.

The First Attempt: Because I had heard horror stories about how hard these are to kill, I went 100% forest service style for removing them.  It involves hacking into the trunks with a hatchet and promptly applying glyphosate to the cuts at the "right time of year" to translocate the herbicide for an efficient kill.

It worked, they died that summer, and I had someone remove the trees down to stump level.  They are currently hidden by flowers, quietly rotting away and sprouting many inedible mushrooms. 
Ailanthus Stumps

Read more!

Monday, March 26, 2018

Save the Bees the Lazy Way

Just a short post - proving that less is more. If you mow less often, you have more bees. The USDA Forest Service and some partner researchers tested and found that mowing your lawn less frequently can significantly improve pollinator habitat. As long as you have clover and dandelions and other lawn flowers - more of a "meadow" than a putting green.

Native Bee on Clover in Lawn
The research team found that while mowing every 3 weeks resulted in as much as 2.5 times more lawn flowers (aka dandelions and clover) and greater diversity of bee species, the abundance of bees was greatest when home owners mowed every 2 weeks.

Read more!