Category Archives: Winter

Soil temperature = air temperature

When does the soil temp equal air temp?  Is this a riddle?  Answer: Today!

Seriously, in the CG bed at 4″ depth, the temp reads 45°, and today the air temp reached 45°, down 15° from our heat wave last weekend, thanks to a cold front.

Fortunately, during the heat wave, the CG bed received its final 3 cu. yards of soil to fill in the tiers.  Time to consider an early spring planting fairly soon; good excuse for another tea party!

Meanwhile, with sleet in the forecast outside, it’s time to get some basil, zinnia, and lobelia seeds planted inside!

Aspen reserving room on the seedling heat mat

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First blush

February held our area in a uniquely extended pattern of lovely, mild weather, which encouraged many trees and perennials to start blooming 2 to 3 weeks earlier “than average”.  Fruit trees, rosemary, pussy willows, maples, and, alas, allergies are all ahead of schedule!

We love the beautiful first signs and color blushes of plants awakening with quickened life energy, no matter when they show up!

The signs of late winter.......when the euphorbia blushes.

Colors of spring showing up

The new mason bee nest is now charged with some straws with eggs; perched a few feet above.....

the dwarf peach in full bloom.....

One gets itchy fingers for planting when the temperatures rise to 60° on a weekend! But, not everything can handle the near-freezing night temps yet, so patience!  Instead, it has been time to prune roses, clean up dead plant stalks where they give way to easy tugs, pull up umpteen weeds that have had too much of a good thing, set up the mason bee nest, and take walks.

Upgrade!

A wonderful upgrade to the community garden has been successfully implemented!  The bed now has sturdy edges and boundaries.  So nice to have a project completed in winter…

This gave us incentive to have an informal meeting to cruise through last year’s bounty results and give some rough “thumbs up/down” to various veggies.

There are more “fun” tasks ahead: hauling in more soil to bring the bed up to level; turn over leaf mulch; and start considering a new layout
before we get too involved with what we’ll plant.

A mystery pile under the tarp becomes......

Upgraded community garden bed

An upgraded community garden bed!

Future garden resident

How do I know this?  Because he’s already here, but not allowed out until he grows a lot more.

Introducing….Mr. Aspen, a sweet tabby manx.  Now aged 18 weeks, he is my “Solstice kitten.”

Mr. Aspen-first day at home-Dec-20-2009; age 12 weeks

He was very small for his age when I adopted him, and it has been a rough month getting him sorted through various plagues that shelter kittens often encounter, but he seems to be fairly stable now, and actively growing.  Keeping fingers crossed on his improved digestion.

He and Juniper were actively playing after only a relatively short two weeks of attitude adjustment.  Not remembering her own kittenhood, Juniper was perplexed what do around such a wee thing, and had to learn to teach him some manners.  But, all seems sorted for now, with her Princess status still intact.

Although a playful little fellow, Aspen is not nearly as spunky or feisty as Juniper was at his age, which is just as well.  Of course, he has his moments.

For starts, Juniper feels safer at playing when behind the safety of glass.

January doldrums

Holidays are past; caretaking of people and pets is past; friends are off to the southern hemisphere (Chile) for some summer bicycle touring; and we have rain, rain, drizzle, rain, showers, rain, with tidbits of sun and fog. But, no complaints; my issues with rain don’t happen until late winter.  Today it is mild weather and much preferable to freezing rain.

It’s a great time to get caught up on indoor reorganization, sorting, and simplifying; all the stuff I never get to during a gardening season.

Today has been a day to dash outside between showers to do some cleanup of flattened Crocosmia and lily stalks, and admire the weeds that are growing so well.  Suet and seed needed replenishing, as little flocks of bushtits, goldfinches, juncos, warblers, starlings, a nuthatch, and a flicker all made their appearances.  A couple of days ago a downy woodpecker showed up for the first time (that I know of)!  All great entertainment on a grey day.

Am I contemplating the next garden plantings and dreaming with seed catalogs?  Not really.  Give me another 3 weeks before I’m antsy.  I’m still in rest mode.  Not that I haven’t already contemplated some new varieties of veggies to try, but that was last fall.  Besides, the garden gang will be meeting at the end of the month for an informal tea, to get our ideas flowing.

However, I am contemplating consuming the last tomato of the garden.  Yes, there still were ripening tomatoes in December!

Garden tomatoes for a New Year's salad

Frosty garden limbo

Freezing fog has kept the area chilly, with few sun breaks, sometimes only an hour before dusk.  Still, it is easier maneuvering through the garden than in pouring rain.  It appears the kale survived the earlier arctic wave without protection…hooray!  Not that it is actually doing anything except sitting in limbo.  The soil temperature (at 3-inch depth) is still hovering between 38 and 40°.  Brrrr…

Christmas has brought us a lovely break in this monotony, with the sun breaking through by mid-morning; nippy day, with only 7 degrees difference between the high and low temperatures, but the radiance was welcomed by many.

A circus of birds paraded through the yard at times: a swarm of bushtits, a couple of goldfinches, chickadees, and yellow-rumped warblers, plus the usual raucous starlings.  The two resident hummingbirds were squeaking away merrily, zipping in to feed when the other wasn’t looking.

A new gift “for the garden” is a heat mat for growing seedlings.  It will fit perfectly in my kitchen garden window.  Now I can grow some chanterai (mini-canteloupes) and margarita melons.  Now to redesign the bed…..

Solstice greetings! It's sleepy time for the garden. Where's Juniper?