I've always looked forward to winter, with it's promise of quiet, white blankets of snow covering the ground and gracing the evergreens with just the right touch of contrast, shimmering in the sunlight. The sounds of my children's' laughter as they catch the falling flakes in their mouths, toss handfuls of the billowy white at each other, and build snow sculptures together make me smile.
There comes a time though, when winters magic begins to wear off. If there is any snow to be had it is brief and, when mixed with the rain that is sure to follow, if not mixed throughout to begin with, results in nothing but a big mess. The gray skies are dreary, and the cold is felt in ones bones. It seems the season will never end!
Last night we saw temperatures dip into the 20s. Winter jammies were donned, all our heavy blankets were piled upon the beds, and we made sure the fire was happy in the woodstove before retiring for the night.
This morning, the fire was stoked right off, and kept glowing brightly until the thermometer finally crept above the 40º mark. At last, the sun emerged and began to warm us. It was still quite cool though, so the kids chose to grab their coats before heading out to enjoy the sunshine. According to the latest forecast, last nights frigid temperatures signalled the end of winter.
Spring is in the air! The promise of new life, bright shoots of green, and in the near future, we can expect to see all the colors of the rainbow being represented everywhere we look outside.
With the new season rapidly approaching, many are eagerly anticipating the gardening season. This is a subject never far from my son's mind. Indeed, he kept his garden going in some degree all winter long. Pa and I were amazed at his accomplishments in this area.
The adults of our family are not quite so talented as our son though. We struggle to grow even the most simple of produce. In seven years time I've only managed one even half way successful zucchini harvest! I keep trying though!
Between my limited success with gardening, and my son's incredibly successful harvests I have learned a few things. Perhaps the most important lesson I've learned is that gardening is not an exact science. Rather it is an experiment, with the variables changing every year. Indeed, we've found those variables can change every month, or week. Heck, they can change overnight! Each day, week, month and year brings us new challenges, new weather patterns, new diseases, new bugs and other challenges. One just never knows what Mother Nature is going to throw at us next.
As a result of those experiences, those yearly grand experiments, I've come to the conclusion that I should never put all my eggs in one basket. Last year I tried for the third year in a row to grow potatoes. While my latest attempt was the most successful so far, it in no way met, let alone exceeded my expectations. This year, as with most of my hopeful crops, I'm going to try at least two different methods.
As you may recall,the bulk of last years potatoes were planted in large black plastic bags. While I expect there are some areas, or regions where this might work well, in our area, where we rarely see the temperature dip below the freezing mark, and certainly not long enough to freeze out those pesky bugs, the bags seemed to not only attract, but encourage the propagation of those unwanted pests. This year, if we manage to get them in on time, I think I'm going to try planting my potatoes on a bed of straw, layering more straw on top as they grow. I also plan to try them in two different areas, one full sun, the other more shaded. Naturally Nathan will be giving them a shot in his sandy garden as well.
With crops I've had problems with in the past, I plan to try other options, but will attempt to try at least two different methods for each species of produce. Some I may try in various locations, or soil types. Others I may try different soil amendments, and perhaps I'll try different "companions". Either way, no matter what level of success (or not) I have with my gardening experiments this year, I will learn from it, and we'll all enjoy it. Now I just need to keep my fingers crossed my family will be able to enjoy at least a few meals incorporating fresh from the garden goodness this fall.
How will your garden grow this year?