Monday, March 5, 2012

Gardening in the snow

Snowing sideways off and on today as the sun and the clouds battle it out. First it will snow so hard it looks as though you're in a cloud; moments later the sun will break through and the thin patina of white on the ground and deck just fades away.  We're looking for a snowbow; from where I sit in the second-floor writery, to the south it's a murky dazzle of blowing wisps of snow glazed by the winter sun as it ebbs and flows; to the north, I see clearly gray clouds hyphenated by patches of blue -- what deepwater sailors used to call Dutchman's Britches.  Beats all I ever saw.

My friend Barnie Day, who lives up the road a couple miles, has warned me about the futility of planting a garden too soon, and I know he's right. There are years when we wait until after mid-May to put tomatoes in, and still wind up replanting in June after the occasional cold spell. It's probably even too early to begin thinking about gardens, and never mind the seed catalogs that arrived in the mailbox the other day.

Still, our long-range plan calls for converting the garden in the bottom down by the creek into raised beds.  We've got a ton or so of leftover 2x12 and 2x10 floor joists from the log home that once stood here, and I toted some 8- and 4-footers down to the garden last week. Sunday afternoon I got out long screws and galvanized nails to knock them together. It was a lovely day: overcast, wind scudding along at about 20 knots, white caps on the leaky pond, and about the time I got down there I saw the first thin flakes of snow.

It never amounted to anything, but I'll tell you what right now: It's hard to screw in a three-inch Torx drive deck screw for a garden box when your teeth are chattering away like a teletype machine and tiny but determined flakes of snow swarm all around you, and you're laughing at the absurdity of it all.  But two 8x4 raised bed boxes are together now and awaiting loads of soil.  And I was mighty glad I had cut only enough materials for two boxes.  I high-tailed it back to the Rocky Knob Tractor and Yacht Club and took up residence near the wood stove, a glass of amber-colored snakebite medicine in hand, and once again gave silent thanks that it doesn't snow inside.


  1. Love it, Jack. Organic Gardening mag has a brief article on 4 x 8 beds, and you could have written it!

  2. Once again you have captured me.....fell in love with your words about the sky and snow. I did not however stay with you while you built your box....I ran for the house and warmth!! I have been trying to go out every day and do a little bit, since I have sore knees from groveling around near my fountain last week. I am still sore! It does not pay to sit around all winter!!! Thanks for the blog......I have been diligently working on mine. I am hoping to have the WHOLE STORY of Starr's and my life written down by the time we celebrate our 50th in two years. I am compiling photos too and that takes infinite time to sift and edit. One thing I am realizing while doing this....we are not 'normal' people, if there ever was such a thing! I still have much to edit on my writings,but for now I am just trying to get the story down.