Insulating Value of Snow

I have decided that 2013 is the Year of the Greenhouse. To that end I have been pursuing knowledge from the internet and newly acquired books, such as Eliot Coleman’s  The Winter Harvest Handbook and The New Organic Grower. The greenhouse will be a 12′ x 18′ lean to on the SE wall of my workshop. accessible through the present shop door in winter, and sliding patio doors in summer. There will need to be one in each end for ventilation.


I also intend to try some low hoop house setups, and perhaps a short high hoop house setup. The Agribon AG-15 Floating row Cover arrived yesterday from William Dam Seeds. This is the lightest weight available, and is Coleman’s recommendation.


Also arriving recently are the Soil Block Makers. I ordered mine from Johnny’s Selected Seeds in the USA, but since found out that I could have purchased them more economically in Canada from Lee Valley Tools. One thing I note is that Lee Valley doesn’t seem to carry the 4″ Block Maker, but you could always ask. That being said, I didn’t purchase the 4″ unit from Johnny’s – over $100 in hand. Maybe next year. However, if you intend to go this route, you do need the kit Lee Valley offers. Expensive up front, but the tool lasts a lifetime and you avoid one more bit of plastic in the world.


Another critical ingredient to getting the plants started well is the dirt. Good dirt makes good plants. Better to feed the soil and let the soil feed the plants… the way God designed the whole thing. Feeding the plant is like taking a prescription to fix a symptom. Much better to let the body repair itself by alleviating the cause of the symptom.


Since I’ve been following Coleman’s advice, I thought it best to stick with a guy who has made the whole system work. Therefore, my soil block mix would need a garden soil component to successfully make the soil blocks. Coleman has the experience to put that soil into heated storage in the fall. I, on the other hand, do not have a stash of good garden dirt. What was I thinking? Anyway, I was pretty sure it wouldn’t be problem getting a bit of my own garden soil, in spite of -37 degrees C a few days ago. From experience, I knew that snow was a very good insulator and getting the dirt would only involve a bit of digging… first to remove two feet of snow, and then maybe a couple of inches of frozen dirt. Once the snow was removed, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I could put my mattock away and just start shoveling up the soil.

Snow is a great insulator

So with a little effort, I now have a couple bushels of lovely topsoil in my shop, ready to do it’s part in preparing for the Year of the Greenhouse. And one other important thing… after I exposed the soil to the nastier side of winter, I recovered it. Now all the little flora and fauna that inhabit the soil can safely go back to sleep to await the arrival of that most wonderful of seasons… Spring.

Lots of snow means lots of soil moisture.


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