Logo

Poor Man's Fertilizer
Ask Dave a weather question

 
Dave Thurlow, Host
 
Hi, I'm Dave Thurlow and this is the Weather Notebook. About this time of year people start to look at their gardens and wish maybe they'd been a little more liberal with the fertilizer. But, on Prince Edward Island in Canada, fertilizer comes right out of the sky. For free. Our correspondent on PEI is Ann Thurlow.

AT: The crocuses are up the grass is getting green and suddenly, yuck. A late spring snow makes everything white again.

But when I first moved to the island the old-timers taught me not to be blue when the world turns white. They call a late spring snow, "Poor Man's Fertilizer". They claim the late snowfall is good for the crops and helps everything green up.

It turns out it might be more than weather folklore. Dr. John Avers, a proffesor at the University of New Hampshire he's in the department of natural resources and he thinks he knows what might be going on.

JA: Snow contains nutrients and also a lot of moisture. And if that snow falls on ground that's not frozen, as it would be in late spring, then the nutrients and moisture in that snow can penetrate into the soil and actually do some good for the plants that will grow in that soil later on in the year.

AT: What nutrients does snow contain?

JA: Well, it contains nitrogen of course and actually it contains more of that now than it has in the past because of acid rain. The content of nitrogen and sulphur and some other elements has increased over the last several decades and has been considered a problem in terms of acidification of soils. But, in soils that we use for gardens and lawns, usually there's a shortage of nitrogen and that input can be helpful.

AT: When it snows in the spring I'm tempted to feel cursed. Or very far north. By this time of year when everything is green and blooming it is a little easier to feel blessed.