First daffodils of 2017: March 1

daffodil-march-1-2017So they didn’t start blooming in February, despite unseasonably warm days.

But I spotted on with my headlights on March 1, plus another already in bloom early on the 2nd that I am crediting to the 1st. So it looks like a new first bloom date for me, just barely. (The previous earliest date my records show is March 2, but usually it’s the second half of March.)

daffodil-2-march-2-2017

Then there’s this one that looks like it is just about unfurled and will bloom properly today.

daffodil3-march-2-2017

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This is winter??

Going back a week: 70 degrees on Christmas Day and the daffodils think it’s spring. Weeds too:

xmas daffodils

We still had food to harvest in the garden (and there’s more to cone!):

xmas harvest

And the birds seemed equally confused about where they should be. Watch hundreds of — crows? –as they moved in a pack, lifting off almost simultaneously with a big whoosh and moving from yard to yard. They’re now gone.

birds preview

Heck, I was confused! The state shattered the record for warmest December ever by more than five degrees.

A winter-sowing experiment

Two days of sunshine and temperatures that hit 50! And on a weekend! Yes, more snow is possible tonight and later in the week, but for now, after this brutal winter, I am thinking spring and the garden.

Not that I can really see much green. The snow, while melting, is still deep, the raised beds are covered and the crocuses are nowhere to be seen. The river behind us? Sprawling from all the runoff.

flooded Millstone

So naturally I planted seeds. Seeds that desperately needed to be used and which I had forgotten to plant in years past. I took some plastic containers that once contained candied ginger, dried cranberries and greens (not all together!) that I had been stockpiling for too long with the intent of turning them into mini-greenhouses. Following the instructions here, I slashed drainage holes, filled with soil, watered deeply, added seeds, slashed air vents … and left them in the snow on top of a raised bed. The idea is that the seeds will germinate as the cold ends and the plants know it’s safe to come up. It will then be up to me to water them as needed and open their air vents more and more.

winter seed sowing

One container is full of Texas hummingbird sage, which promises lovely red flowers and hopefully a stream of hummingbirds. Another is borage, and then there’s mullein and tall fernleaf fiddleneck. The last has half a packet of butterfly weed, whose orange flowers appeal to me as well as to butterflies. I’ll aim to to spread the rest in April, when light frosts are still possible, because the packet says it develops a long taproot and therefore doesn’t transplant well. Just to hedge my bets.

And with that, five of our many seed packets are used up.

One of this year’s goals is to use more of what we have. So no blue indigo tomatoes until next year.

The last of 2013

december vegetables 001A sunny day, so the Brit cleared out the raised beds today. Our final harvest of 2013: About two dozen stubby orange carrots no longer than 4 1/2 inches (but more often the length of baby carrots), oversized, foot-and-a-half leeks that came to us as seedlings from Ohio and a bowl full of kale.

The beds are now empty (aside from where we planted garlic for 2014 a month ago) and covered with leaves to keep the soil from getting compacted and to restore some nutrients to the mix as they break down.

With winter here, it’s time to flip through the seed catalogs that have started arriving and coming up with a plan for 2014. Any favorites to recommend?

Another Unseasonably Warm January Day

It’s 43 degrees right now and wonderful blue sky, though on the windy side. Yesterday it hit 63 degrees mid-morning before cooling down. I am betting that this will be our 12th consecutive month of above-average temperatures.

"Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate," from another blog

What does that mean for the garden? Well, I was supposed to be cleaning up a bit, and then I stumbled across a brown bag of seeds I bought at a farmers’ market in Indiana last fall. These are for an heirloom annual called “Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate.” Didn’t have much of an idea what they were beyond  the photo from the farmer, but I figured it was worth the two bucks or so. (Plus I like to support farmers’ markets.) Not that I have a fence or anything. The message on the bag said plant immediately or no later than April 1. Apparently they like a zap of cold to germinate.

I’ve googled them a few times, and I did it again today. The story is that Thomas Jefferson planed these at Monticello and introduced them to the U.S. As for the name, well, that’s less clear. These love sun and can get really tall .. they’d make a great screen if I didn’t want to see my neighbors! They also can self-seed, though I didn’t come across big complaints about invasiveness. Hopefully they are like rose campions and black-eyed Susans … they spread, but you like the way they spread.

At any rate, I went out this morning and planted some, mostly toward the back of the yard. I don’t know that I need a plant six or nine feet tall, so I figure a bit of shade (or more) can’t hurt. I’m also thinking a whiff of the scent could be nice while lying in the hammock (I better get some hammock time this summer!) And I still have tons of seeds, so yes, if you want some, leave a message.

A Really Late Harvest

Incredible but true: we’re still harvesting some of last year’s crops.

When the snow hit the day after Christmas, we hadn’t dug out the leeks. (Or harvested the Brussel sprouts and onions.) Between one snow storm or another or another, we had snow on the ground for about nine weeks. By time it had melted, the onions and sprouts were history, but the leeks looked great. A few dozen plants means we’re still eating them and will need to get the last of them out just in time to plant this year’s crop!

Arugula in mid-February

The Brit had planted some arugula late in the fall, protected by a cold frame. It, too, got buried in the snow, and we figured that if nothing else, the lack of light would have put an end to those greens. But, they, too survived and have thrived in the past month, with more light finally getting through. They are being mixed into our salads.

As for those mushrooms: the second crop was better, probably because I gave up on that little sprayer and just drenched them. But overall, I vote for buying them at the store.