“No spring in this part of the country ever started in February.” At least that’s what I think I wrote a few weeks back as I cautioned people not to get too giddy about the spate of warm winter weather.
Now it seems I may have to eat those words.
With the cool-weather crops planted three or four days before St. Patrick’s Day this year, we’ve set a new record for earliness in the outdoor garden. Normally, a quick cold snap stops us before we go ahead with any other early planting.
But this year…. It’s been in the 80s a couple of times already in March and there’s no sign of an arctic air mass anywhere on the horizon. Apple and cherry trees are partly blossomed out (and therefore beyond hope if we do get that late freeze). Flowers are blooming. Looks like spring really did start in February this year.
So now the question is: Do I continue on the usual planting schedule or put the rest in earlier?
Normally, I’d be all about caution. But if things continue warm, there’s a good argument for putting aside our fears and getting things in the ground as quick as possible.
Some vegetables–spinach and lettuce come to mind–don’t much like hot weather. All the salad greens will go to seed when presented with temperatures in the 80s for very many days in a row. When that happens, their leaves become smaller and often, bitter. So you want to get the best out of them before it gets too warm. Even the later season spring vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli do best when temperatures can stay low and somewhat moist for a while.
But how do you know it’s going to stay above the freezing mark? You don’t. It’s all a roll of the dice. Some people go to Vegas to get this kind of thrill. Give me garden planting season.
The week of rain has delayed things. But tomorrow, I’m going out to plant beets, carrots, lettuce, radishes and spinach. (And also Swiss chard, which I just realized I forgot when I put the first things in a week ago.) This is about a week ahead of schedule.
Other garden news:
We continue to revamp our strawberry bed. The strawberries have suffered from some crown rot the past couple of years, so we decided to move them. Mike extended the length of our garden by a couple of feet, and moved the little PVC fence and netting we had around the original. It looks real nice. I planted them today. We’ll try green beans in the spot where the strawberries used to be.
Asparagus–We’ve cut the first tender shoots, and a lot more came up while we were away during spring break. Our asparagus was near the strawberries and it, too, was afflicted with some crown rot. But we dug out the dirt and replaced it, redid the drainage and replaced the crowns. So far, all looks good.
Posted by: Roxie