What a difference from last year!


What a difference from last year

By this time last year, we had already had several snowfalls, and there had been snow on the ground since Thanksgiving. This year, we have been granted a reprieve. We have had two light snowfalls, both of which melted in a day. We are currently in a warming trend that will peak on Thursday. After a cold start to the New Year, next week looks pretty good so far, days in the forties.

I complained over and over last year about the bleak landscape and cold temps on this blog. Today the sun is out, and we usually get a few sunny days each week. It is warm enough to water my lettuce beds as well.

I checked the beds last week and everything looked like it was still alive. Some of the Romaine looked dark, which is typical when it gets very cold. It should recover. The Black-seeded Simpson is still little green mouse-ears and will probably stay that way until February.

My experiment with the peas looks pretty dismal. Although most of the plants which were blooming in November look mostly dead, there is a core of green in the lower third. I can’t tell if they are really dead or have gone into hibernation. I may leave some of these to the spring to see if they actually come back.

Since my used Mantis tiller of unknown age refused to start several times last fall, I have decided to buy a new one. I discovered Mantis now offers an electric tiller, same size. There is an electric outlet by the back beds, and I can connect from the back porch for those on the side. I found a new one, with kick stand and edger attachment at an Iowa garden store (Mow and snow) online for $295.00 delivered. I look forward to not getting a workout whenever I try to start the tiller.

A small tiller is such an integral part of my gardening system. I need it to incorporate manure, kelp meal, and egg shells into the beds, and keep the soil light and fluffy. I try to till each bed once a year.

I will be starting some perennial flowers from seed next month under lights. Right now, the lights are off and one tray of Romaine seedlings waits to be transplanted. The room gets quite cold, so they do not grow very quickly. I was getting tired of transplanting Romaine every week anyway. And now they are just struggling to stay alive. I will probably start harvesting again in February.

I canned the last batch of tomatoes on Thanksgiving. These were all green tomatoes that had ripened inside and then had been frozen. All told, I canned about 48 quarts of tomato/spaghetti sauce last summer and fall. I have started eating it and find I probably could have used more herbs, they are very tomatoey. The last few batches were also very thick.

I am limiting myself to three varieties this coming year: Saucey, Aker’s Plum, and another undifferentiated one I am going to try. Also lots of green beans and cucumbers.

I know some folks are staring at two or more feet of snow right now. Gardens are not on their minds, but will be soon. Some people are experiencing snow for the first time. It is hardest on these communities because they are not prepared for it, nor are they used to driving in it. I choose to stay off the road myself, but that is not an option for many.

We have turned the equinoxial corner and it is all downhill from here. Soon, the days will become notably longer. And even if there is still snow on the ground, spring will try harder and harder to break through. I just hope the dry winter does not mean an even drier summer. We have had a lot of precip these last few years, but that may be coming to an end. A swath of drought area is creeping ever toward us.

Happy gardening!

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~ by suscrofa on December 28, 2010.

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