This morning (2/11/2012) the temperature dropped to 2F with crystal clear skies. If it wasn’t for that 2 inches of snow that fell yesterday I would say for Pickerel and Kimbal lakes would be generally safe for ice fishing except for those normally slow to freeze spots. I plan on checking the ice this morning and leaving an update on the ice condition.
(I sure hope my lettuce planting survived last night. I did put a red 75 watt light bulb beneath the low tunnel yesterday.)
UPDATE AT 10:40AM — the ice in front of my home on Pickerel Lake is about 3 inches thick and the quality of the ice is fairly good. Most, but not all, people think this is safe enough ice to walk on but not snowmobile on — definitely not to drive on! Unless we have a warm rain or lots of snow the ice should stay fairly good all week. Clear nights really help make ice even with air temps slightly above freezing. The reason for this is simple — a clear sky has a temp reading of between -100 and -150F. This is true even on hot summer nights as long as you can see stars clearly. If you don’t believe it get yourself a good infrared thermometer and point it up at the clear sky. Try this on a July day with temps in the 90s and you will get the same -100F reading–as long as you don’t point the thermometer at the sun or at a cloud. Also, checked the lettuce and it seems to have come through last night’s near zero temps!
On January 30 we planted the tomato seeds for our high tunnel tomatoes. (A high-tunnel is the same as an unheated greenhouse whose height is over 10 feet.) As last year, half our High-Tunnel will be planted with the fantastic SunSugar golden cherry tomato which tastes even better when grown in our high tunnel, which is hard to believe since it’s also great when grown outside! The other tomatoes in the high tunnel will be a test planting of four varieties–so far we haven’t fell in love with any large red tomato that we planted in our high tunnel. The problem has something to do with the heat, we think, even though we put the sides up and open the big door. This year we investigated the problem and decided to try four varieties: BHN-589, Rocky Top, Abrason and Tasti-Lee. While except for Tasti-Lee (I will have more on Tasti-Lee in an upcoming post) , the other varieties have been recommended for high-tunnel production. News Flash! Just moments ago (7:50AM) I checked and found a few of the SunSugar tomatoes have germinated! This sounds reasonable since we put the flats near the wood stove to get them germinate quickly. We also did more onion planting and now have around 10,000 seeds planted in flats. I hope to get some photos of our lettuce and onions posted sometime today.
Freckles and Green Ice Lettuce Planted on 1172012
Close-up of Freckles Lettuce planted on 1/17/2012
Newaygo Newaygo Sweet Onions Planted on 1/25/2012
We also have nearly completed the second plant light stand. All we need now is to get the shoplights mounted to it. This will give us more workspace since in the past we put most of our flats on a large workbench which made it more difficult to do things.
The weather continues unbelievably mild with only traces of snow left. Finally, it seems fishermen are getting the message about the lakes here not being safe for ice fishing since no one was out there yesterday. I noticed from the weather maps that some temps in the old Northwest territories of Canada are in the mid 40s this morning. Hmm…
Guys are starting to ice fish on Kimbal Lake. However, I really don’t think it is safe yet and they are taking a big risk. One way to determine if its OK to ice fish on Kimbal is to wait until Walt Bancroft starts ice fishing. He has learned through many years to only go out when its safe. The days are really lengthening now, especially in the evening. It’s now still light at 6PM! One thing I noticed through the years is that in late winter some of the cold arctic highs skip around to the north of the Great Lakes causing an easterly component to the wind. This usually means clear skies and the resulting colder nights. It is also a sign that winter is waning. This seems to be starting this coming week although there doesn’t look much like clear skies since there will likely be low pressure areas around which sometimes means general snowstorms. We will see.
I mentioned in my last post about a link to my Plant Light Stand article in Make Magazine. Here it is: Plant Light Stand.
Make Magazine is my absolutely favorite magazine. If you are at all interested in making stuff, or in science and/or technology, you should subscribe. The magazine comes out in a book type binding which means it not only fits on a standard bookshelf its binding means it should last a long time even if you read it frequently and don’t treat it delicately. The editors really work to make sure there are as few errors in the articles as possible–they do a really, really great job. It’s one great magazine and has so much interesting and fascinating stuff in it! Even the ads are interesting and in formative!
I am a bit amazed that my winter forecast this year has worked out so well, especially since it conflicted with just about every other winter forecast out there! In addition to implying the first half of winter would be a bit warmer than normal, I said I felt that the last two weeks of January would be quite cold. While the next week will indeed be quite cold, it now looks like we will have a January thaw during the last week of winter. In other words the mild winter will continue–even warmer than I wrote about back in November! Most people liked the snow we received late last week. It sure did make things real, real purty! The smiles I saw were a bit unusual since most winters people usually seemed to get tired of the snow and cold around mid January. The only bummer here is for those who like to ice fish and run their snowmobiles on the lakes. While it’s going to get cold, the coming thaw won’t let the lake ice get safe enough until at least mid-February at the earliest. When you realize that the strong March sun starts to erode the ice from bottom up, it looks like a very short ice fishing season this year even if March temperatures are colder than normal–no forecast here since I have seen years similar to this when the ice has gone out in mid-March!. However, while I am forecasting a short ice fishing season–it just might be quite an active season while it lasts!
This year we are going to try and grow late winter lettuce for our family. We already have a 11″x22″ plastic flat with 5 different varieties of lettuce coming up and when they get big enough we plan on transplanting them to a small area in one of our unheated greenhouses. We will then put on a low tunnel covered with plastic–inside the larger greenhouse. Low power electric heating cables will then be hooked up to a freeze control which turns on at 35F. We will see what happens. Wish us luck. The primary reason I’m doing this is for my wife Annemarie since she really loves our home-grown lettuce. I will be taking photos of it all so if things work out I can write an article on it. I will keep you’all informed here.