Tag Archives: cold

My Hoop-Frame Greenhouse In the Snow

Well, not that long ago I showed you that a hoop-frame greenhouse could survive a Canadian winter. I should probably add “so far” to the end of that statement. We had a whole pile of snow (by central Alberta standards) over the past two days and I was away and thus unable to brush off the snow that was piling up on my greenhouse. So I was a little worried when I looked out this morning and saw my greenhouse looking like this.

Buried Greenhouse

The snow had accumulated on the top enough to start bending the pvc pipes and the roof began sinking. This is what it looked like inside.

Saggy Greenhouse

On one hand, I was sad to see it getting squashed by the snow like that. But on the other hand, I was over joyed to see that although it had bent, nothing had broken! Everything was intact – just a little bent out of shape. So here’s another positive for using PVC pipe. It can bend quite a bit, still not break, and then resume it’s shape again when the pressure is off.

So I took out my shovel and scraped the snow back from the sides and brushed the snow off of the roof best I could. Some chunks were frozen to the plastic at the top, and I didn’t want to risk wrecking the plastic, so I left some up there. But the warm weather that will come eventually, hopefully, should melt that away.

While there certainly are some risks to this type of greenhouse structure (after all, I do live in Canada), and we’re not out of the woods yet (still six more months of winter… well, three at least), I still stand behind my PVC pipe greenhouse.

Can A PVC Pipe Greenhouse Survive A Canadian Winter?

It’s December 12 in Central Alberta. Last week brought a lovely little blizzard with high winds and a whole pile of snow and this weekend we are looking forward to -35°C. Yup, must be winter. So, I figured it would be a great time to check on my little greenhouse. You know the one – the hoopframe greenhouse I made out of PVC pipes and covered with woven poly. Some people weren’t sure it would stand up the the wind and the snow and the cold temperatures, but I was confident. Mostly. So I ventured out in the -29.9°C weather this morning to see how well things were standing up. Here’s what it looked like:

Greenhouse in December Not bad so far. How about the inside? One of the biggest concerns is that the pvc pipes would snap or would bend under the weight of the snow. One nice thing is that Alberta snow tends to be pretty dry, so it’s not usually as heavy as the snow in other parts of the country. Regardless, it can still be pretty heavy when piled up. Well, here’s the inside.

Greenhouse in December Things are holding up well. Nothing has snapped, there is no major bending going on – all is bright and well. And, for an added bonus (for what it’s worth), it was -18.7°C inside while -29.9°C outside. Still really cold – but certainly a wide spread (and this only at 10am – by 2pm it should be significantly warmer from the sun).

So I must say I am pleased. I think this greenhouse is my best to date and I am excited to get some plants started out there earlier than I ever have before! I’ll keep you updated!

Update at 1:00pm later that day:

Ok, now it’s just -27°C outside, but a scorching -10°C inside! That’s 17 degrees people! Does that not impress you? I does me. I’ll have tomatoes in February!… Well, that might be a little wishful thinking…

Protecting Your Tender Plants From A Spring Freeze

Last spring I bought six kiwi seedlings. Within a couple days of getting planted, they were promptly destroyed by a fierce hail storm. This year I thought I’d try again. I order a few more kiwis and they arrived yesterday. So not wanting them to linger in the box any longer than they needed to, I planted them promptly. However, this morning the weather forecast tells me to expect -6° C overnight. True, the kiwis I ordered were the ‘Arctic Beauty’ variety, but I didn’t really want to push them. I needed to protect them from freezing somehow.

So what to do?

After doing a little research, I discovered a couple of ways I could go about preserving them. Bringing them inside wasn’t an option I wanted to entertain (digging them up, bringing them indoors, planting them in a pot, and three days later transplanting them back in the ground just didn’t seem like a good idea). Putting a tent up over top of them with a little electric heater inside would be tricky (as the rain had already deeply puddled around my new seedlings and I’ve never liked the idea of being electrocuted). So the logical step was just to put an upside down bucket over top of the plants. I had built my trellises with enough clearance underneath to fit a three gallon bucket.

Rumors have it that the temperature under the bucket should stay 3-4° warmer than the air outside. If this is the case, my kiwis should be ok. But time will tell. If it didn’t work I’ll be sure to put an update at the end of this post.

Just one note: If you try this method, be sure to take the bucket off in the morning and put it back in the evening if you suspect cold temperature. Your plants will need the light and the fresh air.

Why It’s So Difficult To Be An Alberta Gardener

A picture is worth a thousand words, so let me just say this:

April 12, 2008

+24° Celsius. (75° F.)

Beautiful warm day - April 12

 

April 21, 2008

-11° Celsius (12° F)

Miserable Cold Day - April 21

 

And that is why it is so hard to be an Alberta Gardener!

17 Hardy Fruits That You Can Grow On The Prairies

When I was a kid growing up in central Alberta, I was pretty sure that all good fruit came out of B.C. True, I we had raspberries and strawberries on the farm, but apples, plums, cherries, grapes and the like where all “exotic” fruit that simply didn’t grow in Alberta. How mistaken I was! Or at least, how things have changed! I never would have thought that I could be growing plums, grapes and kiwis just outside of Red Deer, Alberta. But it’s true. There is a whole world of hardy fruit plants that can survive and even thrive on the northern prairies.

Grape Vines

So if you’re looking to grow some “exotic” fruit of your own, here’s my list of 17 hardy fruits that you can grow on the prairies.

1. Cherries

The University of Saskatchewan has really done great work in making cherries a viable prairie fruit. I now know of at least 10 varieties that are available. (I personally have 7 varieties.)

2. Haskap/Honeyberries

This fantastic fruit is amazing! Consider this… Can withstand -47 degree weather, ready for picking by the end of June, can produce 7 kgs of fruit per bush, and tastes great! Take a look at this article I wrote about haskap earlier.

3. Grapes

Yup, that’s right. Grapes in Alberta. Valient is the most common variety, but there are others as well. I’ve had mine for two years now, so I’ll be looking forward to my first harvest soon.