Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Testing the Limits

Last week was bitterly cold in New Mexico.  The Weather Service had Anton Chico at 3 degrees below zero on Monday night and 14 degrees below zero on Tuesday night, February 1, 2011.  Cynthia, our local postmistress, said we had 16 degrees below zero on Tuesday night.  She also said she had lived here for 30 years and had never seen it so cold.

We have our unheated, high tunnel greenhouse in production this winter.  Earlier in the winter, we had experienced plus 3 degrees and the plants survived OK, but 14 degrees below zero?  An additional 17 degrees?  It is with trepidation that Valorie and I went to inspect the greenhouse the next day.  What follows is a photo essay of what we found.

Fortunately, we had a light snow at the onset of the cold weather.  The snow adding an insulating factor, but the amount is unknown.  Wednesday morning was sunny and the snow was just starting to melt.

You can see the snow cover was approximately 2 inches.

The snow has already slid off the south facing side of the greenhouse while the north side still has a snow cover.

Double row cover pulled back to show New Red Fire Lettuce.

Witerbi Chard.

Healthy seedflat of New Red Fire Lettuce and Jericho Romaine Lettuce.

Narrow outside row has no cover and the stems of the True Siberian Kale are nearly prostrate, later to recover.

In contrast, True Siberian Kale under double row cover.

Needless to say, Valorie and I were pleasantly surprised.  The winter cold does markedly slow down the growth rate of the plants.  You can clearly see the benefit of the doubled row covers protecting the crops.  We will be making a delivery to La Montanita Co-Op this coming Friday, February 11th.

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