Being a gardener in Massachusetts can be, well a test of patience for one thing. Have a growing season of only 158 days brings out the creativity, resourcefulness and yes, Good 'Ole Yankee Ingenuity! SNOW. It is a fact when you live here.
Ah, but ever the optimist, as anyone who lives and gardens in Massachusetts has to be, I look for the good in snow.
one, snow provides insulation that prevents soil temperatures from
constantly fluctuating between freezing and thawing. The reason this
matters is because these changes cause the water in the soil, and thus
the entire mass, to expand and contract. Roots can be damaged, even
tossed out of the soil. The same goes for all those fall-planted bulbs.
addition to preventing frost heave by keeping temperatures below
freezing, the snow prevents plants from starting at the wrong time. By
the same token, most plants won't start up in the spring unless they
have had exposure to a certain number of days of cold. Snow cover during
a prolonged warm spell is a gardener's dream.
In this regard, it
actually can pay great dividends if you pile snow on your garden beds.
This is especially so if you are one of those stubborn readers who
refuses to apply an insulating cover of mulch over perennials and around
trees and shrubs. Remember, we have had winters where we have not had a
good snow cover and the frost went down so deep we have had to worry
about our pipes, not to mention our plants.
There is something
else that happens when it snows: nitrogen is deposited by the snow and
absorbed either into the soil food web residing and active at low
temperatures or by plants as a result of nitrogen fixation, a microbial
activity which, astonishingly enough, can take place even at low
temperatures. Even when the soil is frozen, its eventual thaw can result
in the absorption of nitrogen.
I had always been just a bit
skeptical of the fact that snow contains nitrogen.
Well, it turns out not only snow, but rain as well,
contains nitrogen compounds that were suspended in air as they formed.
It is estimated that 2 to 12 pounds of nitrogen are deposited per acre
as a result of snow and rain. Most of this nitrogen comes from emissions
as a result of burning fossil fuels and industrial manufacturing. The
rest comes from lightning fixing atmospheric nitrogen, which makes up
70 percent of air.
the old wives' tales called snow "the poor farmer's fertilizer."
So curse it if you must, but know that there is some good from any snow that falls.