A Blanket of Snow on the Garden…Is That Good?
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Well…that was a first.
We actually had a blanket of snow on the farm.
It doesn’t snow in Texas…not like this!
We got 3 inches!
It was a legit snowfall.
I was looking at the farm this morning to the pic above and thought to myself “ugh…how are we going to survive this?”
We farm year-round in Texas because the weather is mild and as a matter of fact this winter season the farm has been producing like crazy!! All this snow for sure is going to do some damage.
Pete wasn’t worried about the farm at all. And it looked like this…
Why wouldn’t he be worried about his crops and the snow?
What is a Blanket of Snow:
First, let’s define what a “blanket of snow” means. I know this may seem silly to read about if you don’t live in Central TX (I’m originally from Virginia where this is a typical snowfall) but if you’re native here you may not know what this really means.
A blanket of snow is defined as when there is so much snowfall that it covers EVERYTHING evenly that it looks like a blanket.
Normally in Texas, if we get snow, it’s referred to as a “dusting.” That looks like when the funnel cake maker at the carnival “dust” the cake with the powdered sugar at the end.
I actually spoke with Kathy Howell, the founder of the Mason Heritage Foundation, a foundation based on keeping the rich history of Leander alive, about this particular snowfall.
She said that the last snowfall like this was about 45 years ago. Texas used to be a place that got real snow and over the years the climate has gotten warmer that we just don’t see this type of thing anymore.
Is a blanket of snow bad for vegetable crops?
No. It’s quite the opposite.
A blanket of snow actually acts as an insulator for the plants.
This is a bed of broccoli. We put a cover over it for insects and to keep it slightly warmer on these cold winter nights.
But as you can see, the snow has covered it acting as a “blanket” to keep the plants warm.
Other parts of the farm have straw on the soil keeping the soil warm. But then you add this blanket of snow and it keeps the plants even warmer!
It acts very similar to how an igloo works(1).
What type of winter weather is bad for vegetable crops?
You would have thought that snow would have been the worse winter weather for plants but in actuality, it’s the freezing temperatures.
We deal with freezing temperatures quite regularly here. They are not super significant because when it gets down to those temperatures because it doesn’t stay at that level for too long.
Crops may get hurt but can for the most part make a full recovery.
What’s dangerous about this snowfall is that everything melted the very next day making a huge wet mess.
And then it froze!!
Everything will be iced over…with no blanket for insulation.
And that’s what dangerous and could possibly kill the whole farm.
How to protect your garden from winter weather
You should pay very close attention to the weather during the winter.
A farmer almost has to be an amateur meteorologist.
Some plants can handle some pretty cool, winter nights such as broccoli, spinach, onions, lettuce, salad, and root crops…they should it’s their season.
If temperatures are going to be below freezing and for a pretty significant time frame, you might want to cover them with blankets or row cover. The row cover will keep it a few degrees warmer than the outside temperature.
You can see the row cover in action with the broccoli.
But keep in mind…
We spent years trying to cover the ENTIRE farm with as many blankets, clothes, etc. that we could find. We would spend hours in the freezing, windy weather trying to do this every other night or more.
But we finally wisened up to how to handle the uncertainty of Texas winter weather…
If it dies, it wasn’t meant to be here.
We move on and keep planting.
Build a snowman!