Over the past few weeks, I have heard people again and again bemoaning the “awful”, “hard”, “terrible” winter that we’ve had. Personally, I’m loving every minute of it!
Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had a pretty messy winter. Our kids have missed 16 days of school because of it! All said, though, it hasn’t been overly difficult, we haven’t lost power once, and I’m actually excited about the benefits that a harsh winter can bring during the spring and summer. Your local farmers are excited, too!
Nature’s Pest Control
Little can ruin a beautiful summer evening more than a swarm of mosquitoes, gnats, or stinging insects. They are simply obnoxious! Did you know that a hard winter freeze kills off a large percentage of the larvae, reducing the bug population? Most of the insect species out there have actually evolved in such a way as to account for this. They go into the winter with loads of potential offspring expecting cold weather to take its toll. In the end, a cozy winter means more bugs. A harsh winter corrects this.
A reduced bug population means less crop destruction and, likely, less pesticides needed to protect the crops. You should see the same benefit in your own garden. Less pesticides are definitely going to help your health and your pocketbook.
Blankets of snow covering your seedlings can actually protect them from harsh frosts. Seems crazy, right? As it turns out, the harm to seedlings actually comes from cycles of rapid thaw and defrost.
Think about it. If you thaw and refreeze a chicken breast over and over, it winds up dry and rubbery. It’s just not fun to eat. If you quickly freeze a fresh chicken breast, though, and slowly thaw it in the refrigerator over a couple of days, the chicken will be fresh and juicy.
The cold signals plants to stop growing and to store up their sugars. For cold weather veggies like kale or spinach, this is great and leads to much tastier produce.
Water Water Everywhere
Another reason that farmer are rejoicing (and a reason that you should be also) is that the relatively slow melt of the snows this year helps to raise the water table. At my house, we are on well water and we are really happy for more water! For farmers, irrigation is easier (and cheaper) when water is regularly available and does not have to be brought in from other places. Again, we are looking at better, tastier produce for less money!
I am as ready for the snows to be over as the next guy, but mostly because I am chomping at the bit to get my little home garden ready for summer and to hit up the farmer’s markets for the rest.
I’m looking forward to warm weather so I can grill up beautiful fresh produce for dinners.
Most of all, I’m looking forward to eating my fare on the patio and not sharing it with swarms of annoying bugs!!
Are you ready for spring to get here? How have you felt about this winter? Leave a comment and share your story.