Saturday, 13 April 2013

early April 2013- We are back to the winter

14 April - Early April
The weather outdoors has been fine, with mild days, except in the last few days, where the temperatures went downhill and we got the coldest freeze of the year yet!

The survival of siberian tomatoes!
The major news was the survival of the siberian tomatoes tested outdoors. Not only they were unaffected by the brief frosts down to -3°C but also they survived an entire day below freezing with snow, at the same temperature. One plant showed irreversible stem damage but others only had minor leaf burn and quickly recover when brought indoors. And yes, the entire plants (around 10cm tall), with pot and soil included, froze solid hard. The siberian tomatoes only experienced a little bit more than 24 hours of a constant freeze at -3ºC. I did not want to submit the plants to the freeze we got yesterday down to -16ºC.

Surprise were also some pumpkin sprouts. I test them outdoors during a few days with frost and even snow, and a third of them survived. I moved them back indoors, but those will be my selected seedlings.

The cold frame ensured most peas and fava beans survived the -16ºC deep freeze
Under the cold frame, the peas and favas enjoyed the warm temperatures when there is a calm spring day (outdoors can be 10°C and inside the frame goes up to 25°C). During a minor frost, the soil does not freeze there, and during a day around -3°C the soil barely freezes. This is no problem for the peas and favas. Now, during this second deep freeze, they seem to have mostly survived.

A small seedling of broccoli and brussels sprout was totally unaffected under snow and mild freezing. In my experience from last winter, if the seedlings are more woody, then will survive even a long term deep freeze, under mulch. A kale seedling also survived this deep freeze, but most spring onion seedlings were seriously damaged (they were too small and soil was rather naked - no mulch was a mistake).

I have started many seeds in trays.. Alpine strawberries and more asparagus; more spring onions and leeks, calendula, snapdragon, perennial flowers,  and some fancy stuff I have got in the post: potato onions and perennial rye. One great development are the first pods forming in the peas and lima beans, also the bush beans are putting their first flowers. They are not affected by the aphids as their companions, the cowpeas. One worry is the oca which is showing some leaves dropping in their stems and then the stems start to die. This apparently is because of both warm nights and excessive moisture. The ocas seem to enjoy the chilling days outdoors, a mild frost is ok, but not too much cold. Likewise for the groundnut. The jícama showed some slowth in their growth and needs transplant. What I have transplanted were many of new seedlings of siberian tomatoes, after I was so happy with the performance of this variety. I also transplanted more broccoli and mini chili peppers.

On the self-sufficiency plants, I did some frantic sowing of grain: namely perennial rye and hulless oats. I would like also to try the buckwheat but I sown quinoa and the chenopodium paudicaule. I might have done a few changes to my 100% 1 month food self-sufficiency plan.

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