Mary's Veggie Garden

March 10, 2014

Surprise Under Snow

Filed under: freeze,Parsnips,soil,thaw,Vegetables — marysveggiegarden @ 10:52 am

Yesterday I went into the garden to dig parsnips. Yes, I did need some parsnips in the kitchen, but even more, I wanted to see what was happening under the snow blanket. Is the soil still frozen? Did the thick layer of leaves over my in-ground crops prevent freezing?

In late January, the soil was frozen several inches down except in the heavily mulched areas containing the leeks and parsnips. In February it started snowing: on Feb. 3 a couple of inches, 8″ Feb. 5, and 19″ Feb. 12-13. The cold arrived with the snow: most days in Feb. the temperature did not rise above freezing.

Here’s my garden on 2/14, just after all that snow fell. The parsnips are under the snow between the arrow and the bird-house. There are three ski-poles marking the bed boundary but only one is visible. The snow is extra-deep here, as the snow-blower was able to shoot the light, fluffy snow from the driveway half way across the garden.

3/14/2014 Garden under 20+ inches of snow

3/14/2014 Garden under 29+ inches of snow

Here’s my garden yesterday, 3/9, still deep in snow. Notice the hearty kiwi vine in the background. Late February I took advantage of the frozen snow to prune. There is nothing like an extra 12+” of height to make an overhead pruning job easier. Although I removed a lot of kiwi branches, but there are still far too many remaining.

3/9/2014 The snow lingers

3/9/2014 The snow lingers

The snow was about 18″ deep over the parsnips, but eventually I dug to ground level. The mulch was somewhat frozen; it felt crispy but was easy to pierce with the garden fork. The soil underneath was loose and fluffy – not at all frozen.

The soil is loose and fluffy under the snow - not frozen as expected.

The soil is loose and fluffy under the snow – not frozen as expected.

I knelt in the snow, being careful not to tip into the hole, then rooted around with a gloved hand to pull out three parsnips. This next picture is my attempt to get some perspective on the hole. That is a standard D-handle garden fork included for size.

The parsnip hole.

Perspective on the parsnip hole.

I rinsed the harvest in the snow melt coming off the roof. It’s not much of a harvest, but I’m hoping the snow will melt some week soon, reducing the snow shoveling. The vernal equinox is coming soon.

The 3/9/2014 parsnip

The 3/9/2014 parsnip harvest.

Before leaving the garden I dug in a couple other areas. I chose spots where the mulch had deteriorated over the summer leaving the soil almost bare. Those areas were frozen at the end of January. Surprisingly, the soil there was also thawed and loose.

Somehow the soil has thawed since the snow fell. Here’s my guess as to why. Soil freezes from the top down. The snow insulated the soil, preventing additional freezing. Then the warmth deep in the soil, from below the frost line, worked its way up, thawing the frozen soil from underneath.

3/9/2014 - the gardener.

3/9/2014 – the gardener – squinting in the sun, knees wet from kneeling to harvest.

I always plant snow peas April 1 (or earlier) even back before any of us heard of global warming. Any bets on whether that happens this year?

December 9, 2013

December Garden

Filed under: Kale,Kohlrabi,Leeks,Parsnips,Spinach,Vegetables — marysveggiegarden @ 8:50 am
Tags: ,

I went out to mulch before the temperatures dropped into the deep freeze and discovered I should harvest first. Here’s my garden at home on Dec. 4, before harvest and mulching.

Spinach and kale.

Spinach and kale.

I cheated with the spinach: bought a 4-pack of transplants because I wanted the experience of transplanting spinach, and because I hadn’t gotten around to sowing my seed yet. The pack was crowded with plants. I was very careful separating them, but still managed to destroy the roots of half-a-dozen plants. You see the rest here. They grew but not vigorously. I’ve harvested leaves several times to add to salads.

I planted the kale last spring. It is quite ragged because of a massive caterpillar infestation in the fall. I should have ID’ed them when I found them.They were definitely not imported cabbage worms.

Leeks and bunching onions.

Leeks and bunching onions.

In the foreground we see a few bunching onions and, in the middle, a lot of leeks. The white post holds a bird house (the upside-down pot is a squirrel guard.) The parsnips are next to the post. I was standing inches from that post, adding mulch to the parsnips, when a bird flew out of the bird house. The house sparrows are using the bird house to stay cozy in the cold.

Parsnips, beets, and parsley

Parsnips, beets, and parsley

The parsnips are at the top and parsley at the bottom. The beets, in the middle, are tiny and invisible under the mulch. The red leaves are self-sown mustard plants.

A tiny salad: the last lettuce, spinach, 2 bunching onions, a leek, watermelon radishes,, sorrel & a kale leaf.

A tiny salad: the last lettuce, spinach, 2 bunching onions, a leek, watermelon radishes, parsley, sorrel & a kale leaf.

The watermelon radishes grown at home are a quarter the size of those from my community garden plot. The difference is sun, lots of sun.

Heartier fare: parsnips and Lutz beets

Heartier fare: parsnips and Lutz beets

Just before Thanksgiving, I closed down my garden in the community plots. The last harvest included five pounds of celeriac and this weird kohlrabi.



Siamese twin kohlrabi.

Siamese twin kohlrabi.

The variety is Early Vienna. In all my years of growing kohlrabi, this is the first time I’ve seen one of these.

Next Page »

Create a free website or blog at