frost warning

Wednesday, March 28:

The fan in the greenhouse is not working.  This is a real problem; it means that on hot days the greenhouse does not vent itself.  Already its failure has had bad consequences; before we discovered the mechanical failure the seeds we started in four inch pots must have overheated, and most of the tomatoes and peppers have not come up.  We waited a week, and then today we replanted what we could.  There was enough seed left in most of the packages, but we will have to get more bell and hot pepper seeds when we go to town tomorrow.

The early spring-sown greens in the hoop house are about two inches tall and doing well.  Against the stock panel hoops the peas we planted last week are just beginning to sprout; in a few weeks, when the weather has turned reliably warm, we will take off the plastic and the peas will climb the panels and shade the maturing lettuce, postponing them bolting for a last week or two.  In the low tunnel over bed #2 you can see the results of spreading rough compost; dozens of tiny weeds are sprouting in and around the beet and spinach seedlings, making cultivation difficult.  Our compost making technique needs some adjustment; a better layering of wet and dry, coarse and fine materials is needed to make piles that will heat up to a temperature that will kill weed seeds.

This life is not without its adventures.  Two nights ago, responding to a frost warning issued by the National Weather Service, people in our area were scuttling about covering tender perennials and blossoming fruit trees with burlap, row cover, and old bed sheets.  Our peach trees are still small enough to be covered without the use of a crane, and these we wrapped in row cover.  The apple trees are too big for this treatment, so for these we made smudge pots:  we filled tin cans with rolled corrugated cardboard, soaked them in kerosene and lit them.  Okay, we don’t know how well it worked, but we’ve read of big orchards in Florida where they do this, and anyway it looked fabulous.  Twelve torches were set out under five trees, orange flames fluttering against the black hill as around a camp besieged.  At five we refilled them, following our flashlight downhill to the barn, then up the steep pasture from tree to tree adding fuel.

Sure hope it did some good.

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