In January I talked to my brother. He grows peppers and he told me that it was freezing in the Netherlands. He became a bit nervous because now extra attention had to be paid to keep the heating going. No coal filling like my father used to do, no oil tank filling, but check if the gas continues to flow and the geo-thermal pumps continue to run. Risk of malfunction means chance of damage to the crop.
My brother assumed that we might be used to it. The winters in Canada are always longer and colder. Nothing is less true. In Canada, too, much attention is being paid to keep the heating running and the cultivation succeed. In order not to be dependent on one heating system we heat with hot water in the ground heating network and with hot air heaters for space heating. To prevent freezing in cold corners in the greenhouse, we apply wall insulation and to save energy and stay warm longer in the event of a malfunction, we apply AC film.
When the gas regulator fails we have the option to burn wood. The water pressure in the heating system is monitored daily. When there is chance of freezing rain, the chance of power failure increases and we test the generator once more. And before we go to sleep we put an extra alarm on our phone in case the power fails. Both before and during a frost period, we pay attention to all possible details so that we can sleep at ease.
With a bit of luck, an “Alberta Clipper” with cold air and a “Colorado Low” with moist air come together and there is a lot of snow. Then Clen gets out of bed an hour earlier to shovel snow, so that the staff can safely park without getting stuck in the snow. Along the driveway there is a snow fence in winter, which prevents wind from accumulating snow on the driveway. And when there is freezing rain, we call the staff that when they do not feel safe on the road, they can stay home this day. The truck driver also skipped a day because of ice. We delivered the orders ourselves that day.
This winter, the temperature changes below and above the freezing point. Sometimes a Polar Vortex drops the temperature at -25°C and a few days later the mercury rises again to +10°C. A weather forecast App on the phone informs us from hour to hour of temperature and precipitation and also of the 14-day forecast. In case of wind the wind chill is much lower than the measured temperature. This is often mentioned on the news to warn people about the dangers of extreme cold.
Canals can not be found here. However, there are rivers with piling ice and irrigation ponds covered with snow. We can also enjoy the winter. We can take beautiful pictures of the snow landscape and the icicles. Moreover, we enjoyed a walk on the prairie on our snowshoes. And on 2 February we celebrate Ground Hog Day. Then half of the winter is over and we come closer to the beginning of spring.
Angelle van Kleef,
Colourful Gardens, Ontario, Canada