Poor Man’s Fertilizer…

The last couple days have seen Old Man Winter getting in his last frosty licks before handing the ball over to spring. The ground is covered with the white stuff and still the snow comes a-tumbling down. Ah well, every cloud has its lining and this one is laced with nitrogen. Often dubbed the poor man’s fertilizer, both rain and snow deposit between 2 -12 pounds of nitrogen per acre! A scant amount in the scheme of things, but it’s free and we can sure use the moisture. Still I am looking forward to Monday and the weather forecasters promise of double-digit temperatures all week-long!

I just finished setting up two of my three cold frames before the snows came…those are the tent-like structures you see in the picture. The plan is to let the soil warm up a little and then I’m going to sow some spinach and mesclun mix inside for extra early salad…and hopefully there will be enough spinach left over to freeze for winter use. Yeesh…only a gardener would understand planning for next winter before this one has even left!

On the extreme left of the photo is the beginnings of my straw-bale raised-bed cold-frame. My plan is to fill it with peat moss and compost and plant my sweet potato slips in it. I ordered some Georgia Jets from Mapple Farms in New Bunswick – sweet potatoes are total heat lovers but Georgia Jets are supposed to do well in our Canadian climate. I tried growing some last year in the tent cold-frames but was unsuccessful for a number of reasons. This year I am hoping that having a deep raised bed will provide lots of wiggle room for the roots translating to lots and lots of delicious tubers. I think the insulating factor of being surrounded by straw bales will be a good thing too. I have an old patio door with glass in it that I am going to set on top of the bale frame on cool nights…though a sheet of plastic stapled to some 2 X 4’s might be a lighter solution. We’ll see how it goes. I will keep you posted on how it progresses!

How about you? Any luck growing sweet potatoes in Zone 2b? Or 3? I’d love to hear about it…

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