Friday, February 18, 2011

February thaw

A rob-rob-robin comes bob-bob-bobbin' along...
The thermometer said 80 at some point yesterday afternoon. The windows were open all day. My morning trip to the mailbox (a quarter-mile walk) had me stripping off excess clothing. Our giant pile of snow where all the shovelled snow got dumped was reduced to a footprint-sized patch.

On the way to the mailbox I gave the bees a small jar of sugar juice to supplement the little bit of nectar available from whatever trees might be in bloom right now. Dozens of bees were swarming the compost heap when I went to dump the bucket of kitchen scraps. What's up with that? The heap is topped with kitchen scraps -- orange rinds, apple cores, celery bottoms, banana peels and so on.

Are they looking for fruit and vegetable juice that might contain a little sugar? Or are they simply seeking the water in them? It seems that the nearby pond, though very low and mostly frozen, would be quicker to reach. Another mystery of nature.

Lettuce update.... Lettuce update.... Lettuce update....
I also vented the lettuce tunnels yesterday afternoon and pushed some of the hay  aside to allow the sun to warm the soil. The spinach in the tunnels looks perky. The other patch of spinach, growing unprotected by plastic tunnels with just a little bit of hay thrown on top, isn't quite as perky, but is obviously alive and doing well.

The lettuce in the tunnels wasn't quite so positive. Some green was evident in spots, and some lettuce obviously won't be coming back. Most of it looked bad, but COULD be alive, if one takes a positive attitude. So, we'll see.

I will close the tunnels again before Monday (when the overnight low is suppose to be about 20; we knew winter wasn't really over). But soon I will pull off the plastic, rework the hay mulch and maybe even plant lettuce seed. The question then will be whether to put the plastic back on or replace it with a frost blanket (just a heavy row cover). That is a question to answer later.

Yesterday I planted bell pepper seeds and Black Enorma eggplant seeds in flats. Earlier in the week I started several other eggplant varieties (Ping Tung Long, Bride, Early Long Purple, Italian Long Purple, Florida High Bush) and some Super Jericho romaine lettuce. In a couple of days I plan to start seeds of various flowers, including Echinacea angustifolia and clasping coneflower, both native wildflowers. In a couple of weeks, it will be tomatoes and not long after that, the broccoli and lacinato kale plants now sitting on shelves will go into the ground.

The gardening season is easing into place once more. The cycle of life just keeps spinning.

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