Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Garden Under Cover (and Under Water)

We've had a very strange winter here. I had plans for the pond pier during the normally dry winter months. The pond had receded enough for me to add more support posts and both widen and extend the platform. A few days before Christmas, though, the rains came. They came so heavily one night that everyone--to include houseguests--was awakened in the midst of a deep winter's sleep. We were able to see off the guests with no trouble, but on Christmas Eve, after three days of heavy rain, we endured another deluge. When the rains let up a little, out we trudged in our Wellies to survey the damage.

View of the pond from the house

The pond was nearly out of its banks on the long driveway side, and we could see that it had flooded the entire canal system (in place for pond overflows) beyond the bridge. But we weren't prepared for what we found once we got to the bridge.

Once a tiny drainage ditch, now a raging river

Once a driveway, now another raging river
and a lake beyond

We were able to leave the property for Christmas Eve services, but only after I decided that no one would mind if I showed up to church in my garden Wellies. We planned to have the driveway rebuilt a couple days after Christmas, but the never-ending rain delayed the project until after the New Year, which made for a long stretch of very bumpy rides.

The vegetable garden fared rather well in the midst of all of this, likely because it is perched on a hill. The raised beds drained pretty well, and I could still harvest lettuce, kale, radishes, and sugar snaps. For the first time ever, I was also prepared for cold weather, having made poly tunnels for the especially cold nights. 

Season extenders groaning under the weight of rain

The poly tunnels kept us in good veg until the middle of this month when a heavy rain late one night flattened the plastic. Then frigid temperatures moved in quickly and froze all of the rain trapped in the beds. We had ice dams in the garden. The kale, radishes, and cabbages survived, but everything else was lost. I still think the poly tunnels are fantastic, but they need a few adjustments. Since the experiment so well this year, I'm confident that they'll give us great harvests next winter when we no longer have to deal with El NiƱo

But I really can't wait for the warmer weather. These fingers are itching to get dirty again.

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