Monday, April 28, 2014

Rain...Storms? Planting?

My pansies are looking good.
I have about the only flowers blooming anywhere.
My neighbor across the way had the first clump of his Tete-a-tete daffodils bloom yesterday.
I like my new smart phone.  It has a hundred different things it is ready and willing to do for me, once I take the time to learn all its cool applications, as in uses.  The flashlight, calculator, Siri, using it as a white noise machine by repeating the recorded thunderstorm and rain while I am sleeping (a great aid in normalizing my sleeping pattern, I've found); but not the least is the week's weather forecast at a single tap.

But really, I haven't asked Siri, as I am fond of asking her the stupid questions, "what is the difference between a forecast of rain and a forecast of showers?"

For the next week, either rain or showers appear on each day's forecast from CNN.  On the app with the phone it is the same little rain cloud each day, cast away from some Winnie the Pooh story.  Is it just my smart phones attempt to relieve my ennui?  The temperatures are not too exciting either, highs of about 50, lows bumping along at just a few degrees above freezing.

Since we haven't had any days much over 50 degrees (F), I have to assume the soil temperatures are bumping along at about 45 degrees, too.  Just warm enough to plant a few of the really early things.  Anything else, even if it is not freezing, your seed will just rot in the ground, even if it doesn't dip low enough to freeze it outright.

I do like rainy periods in spring.  Rain, for me, is another name for moisture, which means good germination. The last thing a gardener planting from seed needs is to plant some of the smaller seeds close to the surface, or barely covered, just pressed into the soil and then have a string of sunny days with temperatures spiking into the 80s and 90s.  Rain can be a gardener's ally.

So what can you plant right now?

In the vegetable garden you can plant peas, potatoes, carrots the cole crops (cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts) fava beans, spinach and any greens really (lettuce, endive, arugula, mustard), dill, fennel, and parsnips.  If you are starting an orchard, or even planting just one tree, this is a good time to do that.  Establishing a strawberry bed, rhubarb hill, or raspberry bramble can also be done now.  If you want to try to grow blueberries, providing the blueberries are not already in bud or have set fruit; now is a good time to do that.

My only caution to you, is the condition of the soil.  If your soil is too wet, versus just damp, your soil will compact and not allow circulation of air.  If you garden in clay, this can become so hard seedlings will have a hard time pushing through. Here in the Central Sands, soil compaction is rarely a big concern (another reason we are not overly concerned with flooding unless we are sitting right on a watershed).

Tiny blue scilla finding a way through the leaves from last fall.
In the flower garden, if you have even dreamed of sweet peas, this might be your year.  With 40 percent of the Great Lakes still frozen over, the spring is going to be a protracted cool one.  Each year, some species or two of flowers claims the year because just the precise growing conditions for it have magically transpired like a perfect storm.  Sweet peas and pansies, this is the year you are all in.  Our spring bulbs are going to bloom for what seems like forever, once they do...

It is also the year to imagine that beautiful border fronted with direct sown alyssum, or spots of bread seed poppies.  If you have always wanted to move that bush or perennial that is getting a bit too big, but were afraid of stressing it when it gets too hot too quick, move it now.  This spring is going to be like having a second fall, a more even and cool tempered growing season for gardeners to get those garden chores completed.

Remember, given lemons, make lemonade, and open a lemonade stand!

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