Winter Stockholm syndrome: I reached a point on Saturday morning where a damp 18 degrees didn't really feel that cold anymore. Only one wool hat necessary, not two. Sunday morning felt almost sort of sweaty, the first morning in I-don't-care-to-remember that I didn't have to lug buckets of warm water all the way across the farm at daybreak for the hens. I did a little dance of joy, then made myself a big hot breakfast, trying to melt muscles that had been corkscrewed up against the cold all week.
What fresh produce can survive a week of sub-freezing temperatures, encased in ice, under collapsed row covers, and record-breaking single-digit temperatures? Not much, I learned last week. Snow would have made for better insulation than ice; it can actually keep buried crops warmer than the ambient air temperatures, and is easily brushed off where necessary. Ice can't be chipped off of row covers or greenhouse plastic without destroying it, and doesn't provide the same insulation level.
In an average winter, we might bottom out at 10-15 degrees once or twice. I plan for that, then pray it doesn't go there. We went well beyond that point last week, and so our selection is going to be slimmer than planned for a little while. There are still a few crops that may pop back when it warms up. Either way, a whole lot of warming up and drying out is going to have to happen before I can start planting out any spring crops in earnest.
Not a big list of available eats this week; please don't exhaust yourself trying to make any impossible decisions ;) What winter sometimes takes away in variety, it makes apologies in quality. As plants brace for colder and colder weather, the water and starches in the crops turn into sugars, which lowers the freezing point of the plant's cells. Nature's antifreeze. This week will bring you the sweetest greens and carrots we'll have all year...I hope. If it gets any colder than last week, I'll be shopping for a nice little coconut grove in the tropics.