In the article Growing Sugar Snap Peas in a Container, I commented on the variety I selected being cold tolerant down to 28 degrees. I inadvertently tested that claim. I have the peas growing in 12" x 18" grow-boxes on the patio. I cover them with gardening fabric at night. Well, I took off for the evening without covering the peas. A fast moving snow storm rolled in and dumped three inches of snow on the ground - including my patio. The peas sat in the dark under that cold blanket of snow for four hours before I got home. I looked at the snow covered peas and was sure it was colder than 28 degrees and that I had killed them. I quickly brushed the snow off the peas and covered them for the night - hoping for the best and fearing the worst. Well, the new day dawned bright but cold. After a few hours the patio had warmed up to 38 degrees. So, I took the cover off the peas to find them tall, perky and no worse for having been smothered in snow. It's wonderful to grow a vegetable plant tough enough to survive my neglect.
An early March snow storm reminded be of why I love container gardening. The last week of February I planted sugar snap peas in 5 1/2" x 12" x 18" ceder grow-boxes. I chose a variety of sugar snap peas that grow 24" tall, doesn't need to be supported and is cold tolerant down to 28 degrees. The seed package indicated the seeds would sprout in 7 to 14 days. I was hoping to do better than that so I placed two of the grow-boxes on a heated seed starting mat. I put a third grow-box on a shelf in front of a south facing window. Using the seed sprouting mat the peas were up and going in 4 days. The grow-box in the window had peas up and going in 6 days. The grow-boxes are small enough they are easy to move if necessary. Now that the peas are about 4" tall, I'll leave them outdoors and just cover them at night with gardening fabric. If we get more snow I'll move the grow-boxes onto a covered porch. I hope to be eating fresh garden peas by the middle of April.
Mother Earth News has an interesting and strightforward article on composting. Per the article "Composting mimics and intensifies nature’s recycling plan. A compost pile starts out as a diverse pile of kitchen and garden “waste.” Left alone, any of these materials would eventually decompose. But when a variety of materials are mixed together and kept moist and aerated, the process accelerates. Compost matures into what soil scientists call active organic matter: a dark, crumbly soil amendment that’s rich with beneficial fungi, bacteria and earthworms, as well as the enzymes and acids these life-forms release as they multiply."
"Adding compost to garden soil increases its water-holding capacity, invigorates the soil food web and provides a buffet of plant nutrients. Compost also contains substances that enhance plants’ ability to respond to challenges from insects and diseases."
The article cleared up many misconceptions I had about composting - laying out the information in the following 10 facts.
1. Balancing ingredients is optional.
2. Good compost can be either hot or cold.
3. Small or large - any size pile will work just fine.
4. Turning compost is optional.
5. You can gauge the moisture level of your compost pile by its fragrance.
6. Compost need not be a secret.
7. You can compost diseased or weedy plants.
8. With a worm bin, you can even compost indoors.
9. You can safely compost livestock manure.
10. There are good uses for immature compost.