Thursday, February 23, 2012

I Swear It Is Spring

Yesterday it was so warm. It hit 57F(13C) and last night's low was 42F(5C). That isn't going to set any records, but the weather has been consistently above normal all winter long. The calendar says that it is February but I just don't believe it. I'm thinking the end of March. So I went out to plant some peas and spinach. I didn't use up any seed that I needed as history says it is way way too early to plant. In fact last year at this time I planted my peas on April 2nd which is 5 1/2 weeks away. I know I'm jumping the gun and the poor little seedlings might not survive. Then I'll replant at the appropriate time. But I just couldn't help myself.

So lets start at the beginning. Tuesday I looked at the long range forecast and it said the lowest temps for the next 10 days would be 26F (-4C). Highs would be in the 40s and 50s (4 to 14C). All the weather sites agreed. So I started to chit my seeds. I was only going to give them one day of a nice warm moist environment before I planted them out. But basically the seed was started and the die was cast.

Then I wake up Wednesday and look at the forecast. One of the sites says we will get into the teens this weekend for a low. Ack. I can protect the seed with row covers at 26F and keep the ground unfrozen pretty easily, but not with weather in the teens (-9C). But I have no choice at this point. The seed had been soaking for a day. It had to go into the ground.

The peas got planted first. First I put in the support poles. Peas hate their roots being disturbed and cutting them off with a T-post would be bad. So I always put the support poles in first. The last pole at the end of the 16' bed couldn't go in as the ground was still frozen as that part still doesn't get any sun. But I was only planting the first 6' of the bed which gets a few hours at this time of the year. I like to plant in two rows 6" (15 cm) apart. With the seed about 2"(5cm) apart. I never thin when they come up. Sometimes they come up thickly and sometimes they have to be reseeded. And since I remembered, I put some inoculant in the furrow. I poked each seed down about an inch under the soil. And last but not least, I put some bird netting over the freshly turned soil to keep out the cats. Good luck little seeds, you are going to need it.

Then it was on to the spinach beds. The first 8' of the bed was already planted with overwintered spinach. But there were a lot of chamomile weeds coming up as it was right next to my chamomile patch last year. I took the time to take out the dying leaves and all the weeds. Basically I cleaned up the bed. If history repeats itself, these plants will be a foot in diameter this spring. So small gaps I ignored, but there were a few huge gaps in the plants. I added some Olympia spinach seed in the gaps.

In addition I turned over and fertilized a 3' section of the bed nearest the fence, i.e. the part that doesn't yet get much sun at all yet. I only did 3' because that is all that was unfrozen. The sun is quickly getting higher, but it still is behind my neighbor's house most of the time. It feels like spring, but the arc of the sun says winter. I planted half in Space spinach and the half near the driveway in Olympia spinach. All this seed was last year's seed. So if it doesn't make it, I've got lots of seed I've bought for this year. In fact I didn't even do a germination test on it before I chitted. I just tossed all of last year seed into the container to moisten. I did bring in the left over seed though and I'll see how much it germinates and see if it has a chance or not.

The last chore I did yesterday was brick off the cats' litter box. I gave the cats the spot under the chimney of my fake fireplace when I created the garden. I have about 6 cats that are regular visitors to the garden. I don't want to discourage them, but I don't want them to poo in the garden either. Well they started encroaching farther and farther out into the bed near the sage plant. So I decided to let them know their limits. Also this way I can plant the front section in something pretty. I'm hoping the sweet alyssum reseeds itself this spring and I can transplant some there.

And as a side note, my garden purchases came. I rolled out the row cover and cut it into 15' lengths. This is the right size to cover my 4'x8' half beds. The fabric seemed a bit short for the 45' I bought. I laid the fabric out and stretched it tight. I marked 15'. Each one is a few inches short. I don't think it will matter though. I think there is enough to tack the ends down.


  1. Your temps are about identical to ours, but we've had strong winds for the past two days, so it's been too cold to work outside. I can take the cold, but not the cold wind. We did have to spend part of the day raking up pine cones and branches from the front yard, something that has to be done every time the wind blows like this. I have lots of garden cleanup to do, so I'm hoping for a few nice days.

  2. So nice to be outside. I am afraid all of my gardening is still inside. Temps have been above normal but not enough to melt the snow so the ground can thaw.

  3. We have been blessed with a very mild winter. I have seeds sprouting away inside right now. Once I'm sure there won't be another frost, out they go.

    This weekend is our big turning over of the soil. Wish us dryness!

  4. wow planting already! Very exciting!

  5. Have you had luck continuing alyssum? Mine always came up progressively more thin and sprawly looking each year.

    Am I the only one finding the not a robot things on blogger harder to do lately?

  6. Hm, now I'm tempted to plant some peas this weekend as well. I do want to get started on my "garden" - and hey, if it gets cold again, I can just pick up my containers and bring them in for the night!

  7. Crossing my fingers that your little peas manage to germinate and grow in the erratic weather that late winter brings. I bet they do as peas and spinach are such touch characters.

    Your kitty box area is an excellent idea. I never thought of giving them a specific spot to use.

    Have fun with the new purchased items - it's like Christmas in February at your house!

  8. Everything is still frozen solid here in Vermont. I was back at the old house last week and the ground was not frozen at all. I was even able to dig up a few strawberry crowns.

    Now I envy you and miss living in MA!

  9. What a good idea on the cat box. I may have to try that myself!