Thursday, 25 April 2013

Late April 2013 - freezing weather persists in Iceland

A very cold spring!
Things are more hard than in previous years. This spring is surely very cold. Still no sign of spring, snow every few days, hard frosts every morning, and sometimes freezing nights down to -10ºC.

This, and a series of failures, made me write what is probably the most pessimist post of this blog in recent times.

I also lost plenty of the rye I have sown, but thankfully not the perennial rye and hulless oats, because I prepare the soil as light as possible, with sand and compost and I protect each and every rye seedling with peatmoss, a double fleece and a thick plastic over it. The soil almost did not froze with such a protection after a night frost of -10ºC.

I received seeds of barley and wheat but I haven't started them yet. Its already quite late, but weather is also not cooperative. I am going to try them, but I don't think I am going to have a grain harvest, because the season will be too short, and also my garden does only have partial sunlight during the day (but at least one part of it is sheltered from extreme and cold winds which can destroy any grain crop)

Now I can understand why people had so many famines on the past medieval times. It is easy to have crop failures when weather is unexpected and plants die.

Seedlings are like babies: they demand constant attention
Indoors I am losing seedlings of squash, sunflower, tomatoes and peppers because of a lack of space and plants are being neglected and lacking plenty of sunlight. Any careless with moisture and light can quickly weaken these warm-loving seedlings and then they eventually die. Aphids also contribute to the weakening of seedlings.

I lost a few seedlings of broccoli, beets outdoors when aclimatizating the plants and after the temperature dropped so quickly that soil promply froze hard in a few evenings, even before sunset.

Because it is so much work to garden in Iceland, I think gardening with annuals is really not worth the effort and one ought to work with perennials, because they are much easy once established! Once again, permaculture has the solution.

I also think plants in general do not like to grow in greenhouses. Plants suffer much more from diseases, need much more watering and fertility, and the temperature and light profile is unnatural. Therefore, it costs much more money and effort to keep them, and it is way easier to grow them outdoors.

Outdoors however the garden is looking nicer. The broad beans, peas and recently planted broccoli and spring onions are now surviving these hard freezes. They have peatmoss to protect the root from freezing, where it encounters the surface. Above it, a double fleece and thick plastic sheet, ensure that soil remains only lightly frozen. Still most spring bulb flowers I planted last autumn are very delayer and I think some will never come out.

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