Daytime temperatures may have climbed above freezing for three days in a row now, but there hasn’t been much in the way of a thaw. The ground is frozen hard, the snow is still six to eight inches deep, and the little sunlight that has broken through has reflected back off the snow. So, I decided to give nature a hand in the vegetable patch and start exposing the soil in the hope of helping things along.
I don’t intend rushing into planting, but I do need to get a lot of preparatory work done. Normally, I’d have turned the beds over in the autumn and dug well-rotted muck into a quarter of them. I never had the opportunity to do the work last year thanks to a wet summer being by a wet autumn and then by a long, cold winter. If removing the snow now helps thaw and drain the soil a week or two earlier than would otherwise be the case then I’ll have a little more time to get the preparation done. First, though, I had to dig my way out to the vegetable patch to make it easier to barrow snow out.
The snow is layered, with a two-inch thick frozen crust over four to six inches of wet, heavy mush. I have to smash the crust before shovelling the snow away. It’s a hard job, but it is made a little easier thanks to the frozen ground. I can walk on the beds without compressing them under my weight and it’s easy to slide the shovel across the soil’s surface. Of course, I still have to lift and throw a lot of wet, heavy snow.
The initial loads of snow were dumped outside the vegetable patch, making space for me to get at the paths and beds. As I worked my way in, I was able to dump some of the snow at the ends of the beds and in one corner. Some snow was simply flung over the fence on the right and onto the path—which was very good exercse. And the rest was barrowed out to join this pile.
After a couple of hours hard slog I had three large beds, a small bed and several paths cleared but there was still a lot to go. However, I have many other jobs to do so I left it that for the day and will resume tomorrow. Now all I need is a few hours sunshine a day for the rest of the week. And yes, I’m still expecting more snow and frosts but if I can get the ground to start thawing then it’s less likely for additional snow to lie for long. As for the shirt sleeves, yes, it was definitely much warmer at 4.8C. That’s 10-14C better than it has been.
Photos by the Wee ‘Un.