Wednesday, February 24, 2010
As February continues it's slide into history, cabin fever is rampant. While the months have seemed to zip by, it has been a relentless winter, storm followed by storm and continued cold weather. And the wood pile getting low.
But looking at some photo's from last year, brought hope. The first peeps in 2009 began to sing on March 15th about the same time the first robins were sighted. Last year the weather seemed to warm somewhat earlier than usual; the peeps are generally out and singing sometime during the last week of March.
Weather folklore claims that once the peeps sing, there will be three more cold snaps with at least some snow. I've never kept real accurate records to test that one out but it seems about right. There is a similar folklore about daffodils. Once they open, there will be three more cold snaps with snow and then winter is gone. What weather folklores do you follow announcing the arrival of spring?
March 15th is actually hardly three weeks away. The wild leeks covered the woodlands less than three weeks after the peeps started singing. The picture of the leeks was dated April 3rd, 2009.
The appearance of the wild leeks was soon covered by what was recorded as the second peep snow on April 7th.
What it all means is that winter is on the downside and spring is near.
Late Winter to do List:
There are likely only a few weeks left when it will be good to trim berry bushes, such as blueberries and fruit trees. Pruning helps to improve the quantity and quality of the fruits and berries and helps to improve the bush or tree. Blueberries in particular do better after a pruning.
One of the symptoms of cabin fever are paging through seed catalogs. This helps with the late winter chore of making sure the garden plan and seeds are in order.
Depending on local conditions, seeds can be started indoors. Peppers are a good choice to start early, they seem to take a long time to germinate and grow. Tomatoes, on the other hand, grow like weeds and can get to leggy if started too early, even if given a lot of light.
Snow peas are a good choice for the first spring planting. The are tasty, healthy and can take a beating from cold weather. The one thing to be careful of when planting snow peas is the wet soil conditions. Like most veggies, snow peas don't like sitting around in water. Try to mound or drain the moisture away from the snow peas; powdery mildew and root rot can be problems in soggy soil areas.
Snow peas are a legume; they produce their own fertilizer and add important nutrients back into the ground. Depending on location and weather, now peas can be harvested in mid-May and the ground used for another crop, either a vegetable or a cover crop.
Snow peas are generally climbers and need a fence or trellis; a hanging basket might be a possibility. Some have attractive flowers which provide food for many early insects and birds.
Snow peas are healthy and an excellent source of vitamins A and C and a generally given high ranking as a food good for the heart. They are commonly found in health food stores and can be quite expensive even in supermarkets.
Snow peas are sweet and flavorful and can be used in a number of culinary experiments. They go well steamed and added to early spring potatoes with some leeks thrown in to the batch.
Snow peas are a good choice for an early spring crop; they can take a frost, even some snow, are rapid growers and produce plenty of edible pods. It's a nice gift or a good way to make some extra cash.
Winter: Enjoy What is Left
The ice fishing has been really good for the last several weeks and the snowshoeing has been excellent as well as the conditions for many other winter activities. It is not going to last so enjoy the fun, even a good snowball fight, while there is still time.
Good Blogs to Read
Vincent di Fondi
On Your Way to the Top
New York's Southern Tier
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
French Creek Pete
The esteemed weather seer, French Creek Pete will appear and make a prediction about winter on February 30th at an undisclosed location. There will be no suspense since we already know winter will be leaving one of these days.
So Pete's 100% accurate. Sure Punxsutawney Phil is better known, but he saw his shadow as did three other popular groundhogs. But three different groundhogs did not see their shadow meaning winter is over.
Pay attention to Pete, he is always right, winter will end sometime.
With winter's ultimate demise in the somewhat foreseeable future, vegetable gardens, yard work and yard improvements are more common thoughts, wishes and hopes.
A vegetable garden can provide a lot of good, healthy food. Done properly, a vegetable garden can also save a lot of money.
A vegetable garden properly planned can also make some money even after the bounty has been shared with neighbors, friends or donated to food banks. Perennial vegetables offer a great opportunity to make some extra cash.
Asparagus is one good example. Once planted and established, an asparagus bed can last for decades and keeps on producing with just a little maintenance work every year. Asparagus is an easy crop but it normally has a three year year waiting period until asparagus can be fully harvested.
Good quality asparagus sells for top dollar even when it is on sale at supermarkets. It is a good vegetable to consider as a source of income; it takes little space, continues to produce for decades and is a popular veggie. Horseradish is another good choice for a little extra income as is rhubarb. For more ideas on a little extra income, click here.
And while we are waiting for French Creek Pete and a likely six more weeks or so of cold weather, it is a good time to plan what to plant this year. This link provides an interesting tool for home vegetable growers.
I've been fiddling with it for a week or so and it has some possibilities and some limitations. But the link is worth a look. Also be sure to view Dan's Blog below, Urban Veggie. He has a review of Soggy Creek Seed Seed Company.
Tomatoes and Companion Plantings
With spring approaching, hopefully, visions of fresh garden tomatoes are moving out of the day-dream stage. Next month is a good time to start seedlings, depending on regional climates. Hopefully, the late blight stays away this year and the growing conditions will be better than last year.
Consider planting the heirlooms this year; they are proven winners and certainly for many are the most flavorful. The seeds from heirlooms can be saved for next year, something not possible with the seeds from many hybrids.
There are companion plants which can be planted with tomatoes which many gardeners believe helps them to grow, taste better, and help to protect the tomatoes from a variety of pests. Borage is one.
Borage, also known as the bee plant, is believed by many to improve the flavor of tomatoes. One thing is certain though, it does attract bees, a lot of bees and it is an unusual and attractive plant with blue to purple flowers.
Some other possible good plants to have near the tomatoes would be:asparagus, basil, beans, calendula, cosmos, nasturtiums, peas and sage.
Tomatoes don't get along too well with cabbages, corn, eggplants, peppers, and potatoes.
February 15th is Presidents' Day this year; some might call I Crooks' and Liars' Day but whatever. But it is a national holiday set aside for huge sales in department stores and, well, a day set aside to remember our leaders.
Seriously though, it should be a day with some reflection on those who have helped to make the nation what we enjoy today. Here is a story about George Washington's early days before he became a revolutionary and the leader of the revolt. There is more about this person than just wooden teeth which didn't fit right all the time.
Since a lot of people will be stuck inside this weekend due to snowstorms and blizzards, it might be opportune time to refresh or catch up on some colorful early American history. Or think about planting an Oak Tree, the designated national tree, for more information, here is the link.
If the snow and weather are really horrible this weekend, here's the story of Old Mossback and the LeBoeuf Creeper. These events are within sight of where Washington once visited. Besides, French Creek Pete, spring and a vegetable garden, it's time to dream of fishing.
Good Blogs to Read
On Your Way to the Top
Kathleen is learning tolerance.
New York's Southern Tier
Vincent di Fondi
Dan reviews Soggy Creek Seed. Company this week. Fascinating post.