Ruffled red lettuce, mache, and arugula, all from Renee's Garden Seeds.

What’s Growing: spring snow

Ruffled red lettuce, mache, and arugula, all from Renee's Garden Seeds. Summer lettuce blend, mache, and arugula, all from Renee’s Garden Seeds.

Monday evening at about six, in a break in my long work day, I went out to the kitchen garden, un-clipped one side of the row cover fabric on the raised bed that holds my winter planting of spinach and mesclun and did a quick thinning and harvest. So quick, in fact, that I didn’t stop to shoot a photo of the growing tapestry of greens and reds.

The weather bureau had changed the forecast for the next day from 30 percent chance of less than a tenth of an inch of snow to 80 percent chance of 2 to 4 inches. I thought I’d better harvest before the storm hit. Just in case.

I yanked crowded mache, pinched back arugula, and thinned ruffled red and green lettuces, pulling up small plants, cutting off the roots with my garden scissors, putting the leaves in my garden basket and tossing the roots to the compost pile. In ten minutes, I had a basketful of fresh greens, the row covers were clipped tightly bed over the bed and the wind was rising.

I carried my harvest inside, weighed it (3/4 of a pound), dumped the greens into the sink, washed them in cold water, and spun them in the salad spinner.

Organic greens, fresh from the garden—yum! Organic greens, fresh from the garden—yum!

Then I made myself a simple green salad, my favorite spring meal:

1 bowl mixed salad greens, freshly harvested
1/4 avocado, chopped (organic, Mexico)
1 hard-boiled egg, chopped (uber-local, from Maggie’s hens 6 blocks away)
1 T chopped roasted pecans (New Mexico)
1 T grated Rocking W Swiss cheese (Ploughboy Local Market)
1/2 T lemon-infused Stonehouse olive oil (organic, California)
2 tsp balsamic vinegar (organic, Italy)
pinch salt
fresh-ground black pepper

And went back to work on a landscaping-for-wildlife project that will launch later this spring. I worked until bedtime, did yoga, brushed my teeth, washed and creamed my face, and fell into bed. (That’s my life: sleep, yoga, eat, work–either writing, consulting, or carpentry, take a walk, eat, yoga, sleep, repeat….)

Three inches of wet snow and more coming.... Two inches of wet snow and more falling….

When I got up in the morning, I was very glad I had taken the time for that quick harvest. Because snow blanketed my garden. The greens bed is the middle one in the photo, with its row cover hanging down.

We’ve had almost no snow all winter and spring and my valley is desperately dry. So I didn’t complain as the wind blew and the snow fell–and fell, and fell, all morning, all afternoon. I didn’t complain as I shoveled, heaving a layer so wet and heavy that water came out as I pushed it off my half-block of sidewalk. I didn’t complain as I shoveled the second time, when the temperature, 35 degrees F at dawn and dropping steadily all day, was down to 20 degrees.

Salida with snow. The forested summit in the background is Methodist Mountain, one of our small peaks, at "only" 11,707 feet elevation. Salida with snow. The forested summit in the background is Methodist Mountain, “only” 11,707 feet elevation.

When the snow quit last night, I measured almost eight inches (twice the forecast amount). The total moisture came to four-tenths of an inch. Which may not seem like much to you, but it’s significant in this high-desert parched by years of drought.

This morning, the sun came out, and the snow began melting, sinking straight into the thirsty soil. By afternoon, it had vanished and the birds were singing happily in my native grassland yard, including a small flock of western bluebirds, the first I’ve ever seen here. They foraged energetically for grasshopper nymphs, grabbing and swallowing them head-first. (Chow down, bluebirds.)

Snow's already melted, footer forms appearing.... Snow’s already melted, footer forms appearing….

Later, I snatched a few minutes for a break and took a brisk walk by the new house site. I figured the snow would have prevented my concrete guys from starting to lay out the forms in the footer trenches. Wrong.

There’s the street view of my tiny house-to-be, looking toward what will be my side porch and kitchen wall. Woo-hoo–I can see it emerging!