Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Solar Pod Certainly Works

This winter has been the harshest I've ever had in my decade plus in Massachusetts, and the amount of snow has been unreal. On February 4th I unburied the solar pod from another foot of snow and all but given up on anything surviving in it, as temperatures had dropped to -6 degrees F the previous week. My goal was simply to keep it clear of snow so I could use it again in the spring to jump start some plants. I certainly couldn't check the plants inside, as the pod was frozen shut. Even if I had been able to open it, there was the danger of snow falling in and preventing me from shutting it again. But the weather was nice again today and the snow has melted down, so I decided I would open it up a crack to see the pile of mush I was certain the greens had become.

I was greeted by a blast of steamy warm air and a tropical smell when I opened the solar pod just a couple inches. Once my glasses unfogged I could see that all the plants had made it through, with the kale doing particularly well. There was damage on a number of leaves, and some dead leaves in the mix, but they were in the minority. I picked a kale leaf to see how the taste had held up and it was heavenly.

At this point I can unequivocally call the solar pod a success. The fact that it protected the plants through a low of -6 degrees F and sustained single digit weather really impressed me. It wasn't cheap or easy to build, and certainly didn't deliver a bounty of produce. Still, the new year's harvest was succulent with unrivaled flavor, and I plan to go grab another round sometime this week.

Growing food through a harsh New England winter feels like an eccentric novelty, but it is something I look forward to doing long into the future. When the time comes I do believe I'll build another solar pod to replace this one when it fails. This spring looks to be extremely busy with a new baby on the way in April and a community garden to get off the ground. If it was a little more sane I might just build another this year for a larger harvest next winter.

1 comment:

Pam J. said...

Big round of applause! I have to get one of those. I'd like to say I will make one like yours, but I just don't see that happening. I'm not a power-tool kind of person; in fact, I'm barely a hammer and nail kind of person. But I do have my hoops in place and I'm going to rig up some heavy-duty plastic so I can plant early greens. Won't be long now.

(Half of me envies you all that nice snow; the other half -- the older half -- says "whew, I'm glad we're down to just a few tough piles of snow in parking lots. But DC gets much of its worst weather in late Feb/early Mar so the coast is definitely not clear.)