Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Winter Has Descended Upon Us

At this rate it's going to be a long, hard winter.  We had 21 degrees in late October, which is unusually early for such a low temperature.  On Monday of this week we had 22 deg, on Tuesday a frigid 14 (which is a midwinter temperature), and this morning 16.  As usual, I was semi-prepared at best.  I didn't think it would get down to 14, so I had some consequences to deal with.

I had covered my remaining tomato plant with the down comforter on one side and the heaviest regular comforter on the other side with a good overlap at the top, but 14 degrees?  You've got to be kidding!  Most of the tomatoes froze, which is to say ruined, but we picked them anyway just to be sure.  The plant had maybe 200 small green tomatoes on it -- almost 4 gallons in all.  If I had picked them a day earlier, blah blah blah.

I didn't cover the four coldframes in the garden.  The mizuna wasn't happy, but the kale, collards, and beets seemed OK.  However, I prefer not to freeze them so badly, since they will get shocked and stop growing.  Sometimes it takes them weeks to recover.  I've got to build the permanent lids for the coldframes.  They'll be heavy, but will also stand up to the weather better than foam insulation will.

The plants in the Ark coldframe did OK except for the potato.  Potatoes are a cool-weather plant, but are also very frost-sensitive.  I need to get those foam inserts inserted into the lid before it gets any colder.

The jungle of houseplants in the Ark didn't quite freeze, which is very good news, because I forgot to close the windowshades.  I'm planning to install foam inserts into three of the windows on the north and northeast side, close the windowshades at night, and even run an electric heater at night during the coldest weather if necessary.  We could very well have single-digit temperatures later this winter.

A couple of weeks ago, Laura and I moved our bed back down to the main house, which we call the Cave.  I didn't install a wood heater into the Ark because it would take too much room, and didn't want to use electric or propane heat, because I'm a cheapskate.  The Cave is built partly underground, has an R-60 ceiling, and has an excellent airtight wood heater that easily holds a fire all night.  Snug as a bug is how we like it in winter.  The heater is in the kitchen, which is the core of the house, and there are 3 doors opening out to the rest of the house -- the bedroom, the living room, and Laura's art room.  We can open and close these doors as conditions warrent, and regulate the temperature to our satisfaction.  It's an elegant system, not that I planned it that way.  Sometimes things just turn out for the best.