Watering winter tunnels with snow

---, Winter Gardening

Yesterday I opened my winter tunnels to check on them. My husband and I shoveled open the gate and then shoveled our way to the beds. We still have about a foot of snow on the ground. We shoveled the snow along one side of each bed and then lifted the plastic covers.

I was hoping to see nicer looking vegetables. They were very dry. I have a lot of spinach, some arugula, red beet greens, escarole, endive, kale, and broccoli. But all were wilting and small.

In past years, I have opened the tunnels when it rained. We usually get several good rain storms through out the winter. It looks like I’ve neglected the tunnels this year.

The good news was that everything was still alive. Winter greens are tough plants. To give them water, I shoveled snow onto the beds, right on top of the plants. Then I covered everything back up. The snow will melt quickly in the warmth generated by the sun and plastic covers. I’ll check in a couple days to see if they need more snow.

One good thing about a plastic tunnel is that once you have a good amount of moisture in it, it doesn’t really go anywhere. It stays inside the tunnel, keeps the air and soil nice and moist, and the plants hydrated.

Charley and Suzie were very happy I opened the tunnels. I was experimenting with growing winter broccoli and that is one of their favorite vegetables. It’s grown OK so far and had formed a bunch of small heads. Unfortunately for me, their texture was very soft – not like a crunchy fresh broccoli that is preferable. It’s like kale in the winter, tender and sweet, except that texture is not what you want for broccoli. So, fortunately fo  r the dogs (and my rooster), I pulled it all up and they ate it all. Everything but the roots.

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