And then it was spring.
Not sure how we got here so quickly, and I cant honestly expect it to last. Of course it will snow again (I believe I said that a couple months ago, and it really hasnt happened) and we will have to break out the shovel at least once more. But I am a little nervous that we wont.
Before the winds blew in (seriously, how do you people with hair deal with this?) early this week, I was able to spend an overcast afternoon in the garden. Mostly dealing with cutting back some perennials and removing dried flower stalks, but I was amazed at the amount of life waking up so early.
Much like my son on a Saturday morning, much of the yard is coming out of its slumber too soon. The plum and lilac trees are already starting to push flower buds; the garlic is already 6 inches high, and many of the winter annual weeds are already putting on a tremendous amount of growth.
I am most concerned about the plums starting to flower because these warm temperatures could very well make the tree break dormancy way too soon. You dont have to live here long to have at least one story of attractive spring blossoms quickly turning to what look like dirty fingernails all over your tree. The whites and pinks become black and brown at the edges, and alas, you didnt quite have enough fruit to share with your neighbors that year.
Our favorite plum in the yard is the Santa Rosa because it produces numerous medium-sized fruit that hardly ever make it to the ground, much less the jelly jar. It is a borderline zone 4 plant, but now that I see the flower buds swelling, I know this cultivar can survive a relatively cold winter.
Silver lining or not, I am still worried that the plum pickin may be sparse this year.
For those of you with vegetable gardens, hopefully you have at least mapped out your planting plan for this year, and hopefully you dont have too many crops in the same spot as last year. Remember, it is always a good idea to rotate your crops, even if it is the next bed over. Root crops that break up the soil can help with water infiltration, while our leguminous crops (beans and peas) are able to fix nitrogen, which is necessary for plant growth. The fixing a symbiotic relationship with beneficial types of soil-borne bacteria will supply the plants, and even subsequent crops, with lots of readily available nitrogen.
My kids also picked their favorites to plant this year. Asher has chosen Racer pumpkins (to me, an obvious choice for a Hot Wheels fanatic), while Elena has decided to go with Costata Romanesco zucchini, which I consider a brave choice. Maybe she thinks it will impress her gardening dad, but in all honesty, Im pretty sure it has to do with the chocolate zucchini bread were still eating from last year.
email@example.com or 382-6464. Darrin Parmenter is director and horticulture agent of the La Plata County Extension Office.