Winter Games

IMG-20130124-00150I spent most of yesterday playing such games as Whack The Snow Off The Tunnel; Hunt The Animal; and Spot The Leek. These games are quite fun; fortunately there wasn’t enough snow on the tunnels to affect the plastic too badly, or warp the structure. My tunnels are pretty small compared to some of the larger growers who have super wide multi-span structures, which definitely do need extra supports inside to keep the roof up when heavy snow is forecast. Plus two of my tunnels are Clovis Lande, with the Gothic peak at the top, rather than a smooth round curve like my third tunnel. These peaked tunnels are popular with growers in places like Maine in the US where they get serious snow, because the pointed roof helps shed snow and prevent vast amounts collecting at the weakest place at the top of the curve.

IMG-20130124-00151It was great to bang the snow off from inside the tunnels, using a soft broom, and see the blue sky hove into view through the plastic; there wasn’t a huge amount of sun, but what there was seemed to come flooding into the tunnels, like I’d drawn the curtains in the morning. I could almost here the salad plants yawn and stretch, enjoying the light.

IMG-20130124-00149Snow cover is also a great way to see if any wildlife comes along and inspects your crops. A fox had obviously come the night before and had a good nose around the compost heaps; then pattered off to the module tunnel, where it presumably discovered that it’s a nice warmish sheltered spot and may have spent some time there; came out the other side, and carried on nosing around the other tunnels and herb beds. Do foxes eat mice and rats? Hope so; maybe the smell of naughty mice up to no good in the tunnels are what attracted it.

IMG-20130124-00157In the field, I’d recently seen a hint (dug mud) that the rabbits might have discovered that I no longer have a rabbit-proof gate (in fact no gate at all); and now I have proof. Fortunately there was only one set of prints, hopping into the field, messing about round the remnants of the fennel (probably munching them since the grass is completely covered with snow); lolloping towards the leeks, then back again out of the field and into the hedge. Hmm. It’s fine now, but I will have to make sure they’re not so welcome once the lettuce and carrots are in.

IMG-20130124-00160The last game of Spot The Leeks wasn’t actually too bad: weirdly the ground wasn’t very frozen at all under the snow, which has acted as a blanket to keep all the soil fauna warm. A week ago before the snow and following a hard frost, it took a lot of effort to get the fork in the ground and there was no sign of life; it was pretty easy yesterday, and a number of worms were busily doing their thing among the leek roots, and looked most put out to be brought up into the cold. I felt quite the despoiler though, ruining the pure white cover with mud, literally sullying it. Made me want tiramisu though.



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