11 March 2010

Ready for Spring

Spring is likely to be upon us soon. At long last, after months where temperatures dipped into the low 20s on a nightly basis, we have had four consecutive above-freezing nights, including two where nighttime temperatures hovered around 50. This is expected to continue at least for the next week. This will certainly have the expected effect of causing every tree in the Upstate to burst forth in wondrous springtime beauty (although this has not happened as of today), so that when we have a late-season hard freeze at the end of the month everything will die. Hooray climate change (Global Climate Chaos, as Smittywife and I have dubbed it).

Nonetheless we are proceeding apace with plans to set the vegetables out in the garden in the near future. It’s expected to rain all the rest of this week, but next week I will start hardening off the vegetable seedlings. I sowed peas, swiss chard, and lettuce directly into our Pea Bed ten days ago, and with the warmer temperatures all have now sprouted and are growing happily. Sweet onions we planted at the same time are also showing signs of life.

I set out strawberries on Monday; 11 of them so far, spread around the yard so we can figure out what the best place is for them. I planted our blueberries as well. These came bareroot from the Jockey Lot back in December, when I bought the peach and apple trees. Unlike the trees, which are fully budded and ready to go, the blueberries have no detectable signs of life. I did exactly what the university extension told me to, namely, planted them into pots and kept the pots indoors and away from any chance of the pots freezing through, so I’m hoping now that they’re outside we’ll see something. But where I planted them in the yard, there’s easily room for a dozen or so more plants, so whether these come to life or not I’ll probably be getting more.

Last years’ pear trees are buddy, but look like they’re going to take their time coming out. I’ll be patient with them; I would be thrilled with even two or three pears this year. Likewise the figs look ready to go, and with another wet season I expect to get a lot of figs this year. I pruned the loquat tree and the pomegranate yesterday, the loquat to a single trunk, the pomegranate to multiple trunks with limited branches.

Elsewhere the surest sign of a change is from the forsythia bush in the front yard, which looks like it could be blooming by Saturday. The baldcypress (my baby, which I grew from seed and is now five years old) looks like it survived the winter. The witch hazel has nice fat buds, and the fringetree has smaller ones. The dogwood has no flower buds but looks like it’s survived the winter in fine shape. I am less certain about the redbud, which should be one of the first trees to flower but still looks utterly bare. I’ve never watched a redbud up close, though, so I don’t know what to expect. The serviceberry was split in half by a romping hound dog last fall, so although it appears to have some live buds at the base of what’s left of the trunk, I’m not sure what to expect. The elderberry already has leaves. And of course the dozen oak trees around the area are all getting the filamenty look at the tops as they prepare to greet the year.

We had snow last year on March 1st, which took some days to melt, but was quickly followed by spring flowers and leaves. It’s still only March 11th, but it seems as though winter has been longer this year. Everyone at Smitty’s Farm is ready for it to be over.

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