Thursday, March 26, 2015

More Springing

Radish babies.
Lots of excitement in the garden these days.

Two days after the Spring Equinox I wandered through the garden, pulling back dead, brown growth from last year. Tiny green leaves hugged the ground beneath most of it. Fragrant herbs -- the anise hyssop, slender mountain mint, etc. -- prepare themselves to become tea for me. Green lines of radishes, peas, arugula, even spinach stretch along the garden.

The first bouquet of the season, daffodils from the cutting garden, graces our living room, Buds swell on the trees. The tops of elms are yellow with blooms, providing early sustenance to honey bees.

Honey bees also buzz at apricot blossoms. Yes, the eager beaver apricot tree has begun blooming just in time for the first frost we've had in weeks. It is perhaps our fault for planting it on a south facing slope on the south side of the house, allowing it to warm earlier than trees planted elsewhere. Apricots tend to be early bloomers, anyway, which is why the omniscient They say we harvest apricots only every five to seven years in Kansas.
Apricot blossoms.

This "dwarf" apricot tree is the most robust tree of all the 35-plus fruit trees planted on our property. And we've gotten precious little fruit from it, perhaps a handful of apricots in five years. But it is a pretty and healthy tree, and the early blossoms give the honey bees something to buzz about.

The temperature barely dipped its toes into the freezing realm, not falling low enough to kill apricot blossoms, quite. It would take 27 degree Fahrenheit to do that and my thermometer read 29 before it began to rise. So, apricots this year? Maybe? We've still got some freezing opportunities this spring.

The perennial earliness of this apricot tree has us contemplating putting another one in a different location, down at the bottom of the hill, where temps naturally remain a bit cooler prompting later blooming times. We planted the majority of our fruit trees on a north-facing slope, which heats up later in spring, as an effort to delay blossoming and protecting them from late frosts. The peach tree there was loaded with fruit last year in spite of lots of late-season cold. If only I had known that gooey stuff was normal and not a cause to get rid of all the fruit... alas...

Lavender mint springing.
If you have fruit trees, here's a handy chart outlining the temps at which buds, blossoms and green fruit of various fruit trees are killed.

A couple of days ago, the National Weather Service said to expect a low of 24 degrees on Saturday, which made my heart sink. That kind of temperature had me concerned not just about apricot blossoms, but the radish seedlings, baby broccoli plants and other things in the garden. These are cold tolerant plants, but 24 is a bit too much for them. I was glad the old sheets and blankets I used to protect the winter veggies were still piled in a wheelbarrow in the garage. Fortunately, I probably won't need to use them, yet, as the current forecast has the low at just above freezing.

We've still got ample time for some real cold before the weather becomes summer, but so far it looks like a warm spring. However, Kansas springs like to bring surprises, so we can't relax quite yet.

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