Time to start building a cold frame

Hail Gaia!
Sarah Phelan
Hailstones fell on San Francisco last week, so get your camera--and plants--ready for the snowflakes predicted this weekend.

No, I'm not talking about Democrats building shelters against the big chill that the Republicans are trying to bring down on public sector workers, and the impact of that push on folks engaged in pension reform debates in San Francisco. Instead, I'm looking at the possibility that snow could fall at sea level around San Francisco this weekend for the first time in 35 years--and wondering if gardeners need to start worrying about protecting crops and plants that don’t like icy climes.

Hardy winter vegetables and bulbs typically do fine under a warm blanket of snow. But a lot of folks in the Bay Area start growing stuff in January and February that’s not cut out for snow.
I've read that you can use empty coffee cans, milk jugs with the bottom cut out, or sandwich bags as makeshift plant protection, provided there’s enough space in these containers for your plants to breathe. But just as I was planning to raid the recycle bins, Adam, a fellow gardener and Guardianista, pointed out that such measures won’t withstand high winds, and that if I'm serious about protecting buds and blooms, I should consider building a cold frame

Hmm. Maybe I'll get around to buying untreated lumber, fastening it with galanized screws, pounding wooden stakes into the ground, and battling sheets of plastic film, all before Saturday's threat of snowflakes. Or maybe I'll simpy pop sandwich bags over my plants by torch light Friday night.. Or say a Hail Gaia, and hope that my plants survive regardless, just like they did last week's hail storms.

And I suspect the snow won’t last too long here, unlike the East Coast, where, as the Farmers Almanac notes, native tribes called the February full moon, which occurred Feb. 17 this year, the Full Snow Moon, since the heaviest snows usually fall in February.  In fact, reading the Farmer’s Alamanac made me recall the 12 years I spent shoveling snow in eastern Canada, and I'm once again reminded just how good we have it here. at least on the weather front.

“Some tribes also referred to it as the Full Hunger Moon or Little Famine Moon, since harsh weather conditions in their areas made hunting very difficult,” the Farmer’s Almanac observes. “Forced to gnaw on bones and sip bone marrow soup for sustenance, the Cherokee named it the Full Bony Moon.”

The Celts called February’s moon the Moon of Ice, the Chinese named it the Budding Moon in anticipation of spring. Here in the Bay Area, maybe we should call our February moon, the Full Hail Moon, since that’s what fell from the skies last week.