Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spring & snow

The dreaming phase of spring is nearly over as the temperatures creep higher and the snow recedes.  Garden, chickens, cows, renovations... all around the corner, just out of sight, although I'm catching a glimpse of the hope of them now and then!

Plans for the garden are moving from the 'thinking' phase to the 'ordering' phase, and I need to finalize what I'm planning to grow this year.  First on the list is scab-resistant potatoes and I'm considering Russets and Norland varieties.  I don't know what varieties we used last year, they were seed from my mom who has grown then for years and we've always just called them the 'red', 'white' or 'pink and white' potatoes!  I read an interesting blog at and am going to attempt to follow their watering ideas for reducing potato scab this year.  I've never watered potatoes in my life, but I think the soil and weather conditions here dictate that I'm going to have to start!

Second, I'm going to be brave and attempt to grow a few more time-consuming plants this year.  Cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli are on the list, and I suspect that there are a lot of pests around that will love to eat them as there is a lot of canola in the area, which are of the same family and like to share their pests around!  It's going to take some vigilance, but I think it's worth the try!

Carrots, beets, and a few turnips complete the root crop list thus far, and some powdery mildew resistant peas are a must.  I'm hoping to plant some corn beside the house in the microclimate created by the shelter of the porch, a few cobs of corn in August would be so sweet!  Beans I'm still not decided about, I'm thinking of a climbing variety that can grow in another microclimate near a building.

The greenhouse (hopefully we will have a greenhouse!) is reserved for frost susceptible long-season plants, tomatoes, pumpkins, cucumbers, and maybe a few zucchini, although after I've had enough zucchini, I might move them outside and allow the frost to take them :) 

I've been reading about square foot gardening and must admit that I'm intrigued.  The option of controlling the soil fertility and moisture and stopping creeping weeds by using raised beds is appealing, as well as the fact that they are generally cleared of snow sooner and the soil warms sooner.  I currently have my strawberries in raised beds and really like the defined space for them, plus I don't have to bend down as far to pick the occasional weed and deal with the runners!  I was planning to do plots instead of rows in the main garden, I think I'll look this a bit more!

Even as the calendar heralds the start of spring, the weather forecast is for flurries and below zero temperatures all of this week.  It has begun already with a small accumulation dusting the outside step, another reminder that the change of seasons is not dictated by the calendar!

Happy dreaming...

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Longing for Spring

I've had this happen to me on several occasions.  Store-bought tomatoes ripening in my fruit bowl that sprouted their seeds inside the tomato.  They look fine from the outside, finally looking ripe, but totally sprouted from the inside!  It leaves me wondering what has happened to this tomato to make it do this; I have never had this happen with any home-grown tomatoes!  This last episode has left me looking at my calendar and calculating how soon we could have ripe tomatoes from our own plants.  Of course they have to be seeded, a greenhouse built, and the snow needs to disappear before that can even start to happen, but the tendrils of spring fever are winding their way into my brain and resulting in extensive mental to-do lists and plans for massive outdoor heaters to reduce our snow pack.

A quick trip south this weekend has amplified this longing, a few days with no snow, some sprigs of green grass, a hint of crocus sprouts, and warm temperatures makes me wonder if the allure of the north is worth the length of the winters.  I think it's time for me to go take an extra dose of Vitamin D and shake these doldrums!