Winter Comes Late

Finally, it seems like winter here in the Northeast Kingdom. The past two eves have dipped below -14F which is the coldest this winter, but long in coming as regards real northern temps. We are always quick to enjoy the frigid weather, but have been a bit worried about the odd global events leading up to this normally cool situation. Here is the complication: Until the last week or so, we had nearly no snow cover due to the weirdly mild weather this year. This of course gives little insulation for plant roots, and so there was much hoping for some of the white stuff. Luck was with folks around here and we received just under a foot last week. Here’s the point, whether or not you believe humans are messing about with the global climate (we are), it is hard to dismiss things are getting unusual out there. Those hoping for the silver linings of global warming and the visions of peach trees and sweet cherries in the north should look closer to the fine print.. The reasons for the distinction between the popular term “global warming” and the term ”global climate change” embraced by the scientific community is that of the effect. Warming, maybe, to your home town. But change, certain. This means, maybe warmer, maybe colder, definitely different. So, here in Walden this year we had one week with only 2 or 3 inches of snow (normally many feet) and we almost had 14 below in those conditions. We did have 9 below with almost no snow a few weeks back. Those who have trees and bushes that have survived for years, especially those in lower altitudes in the surrounding valleys (which characteristically have less snow) will see damage and losses. This is the sort of complications we need to understand. Most so called hardy plant roots can only sustain 20 degrees ABOVE zero in the root zone, so they need protection that snow allows them. No or little snow cover due to warmer temps spells disaster when inevitable arctic blasts swing in from Northern Canada. That so called global warming may likely mean you have to grow hardier plants, not the other way around.