Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Weather Outside is Frightful

This has been quite a winter so far -- not as bad here as it has been in the Northeast for sure but very rainy. Last night we had winds in the 30-40mph range and it was COLD. In the next few days we are predicted to have a "wintry mix" of weather. The Almanac predicted "Red Flag" weather in the first week of February and so it seems they were right but it didn't stop there! They also "Red Flagged" the middle of March so winter isn't done and any early season planting I do needs to be done with an eye to being able to cover when necessary. But, even with such wintry weather, The gardening season is upon us! I'm feeling the pressure already--too much to do and too little time to do it in.

Per the "Week-by-Week Vegetable Gardener's Handbook" I should have flats of seedlings going weeks ago. Well, I am just not able to do flats of seedlings currently. I need a greenhouse for that but that will be next year at the soonest. This year, we still either direct seed or we buy starts. Other than that, let's see how I'm doing on the weekly plan:

Week 8 before Average Date of Last Frost (February 2nd for my area):
  • remove half of the mulch from the garlic (and strawberry) bed if there is signs of growth. No strawberry bed this year but I do have a garlic and onion bed that I planted in the Fall. No signs of growth with the onions but the garlic had started growing in the Fall but has not grown much since. After this week's cold, I'll begin uncovering the garlic. 
Week 7 before Average Date of Last Frost (February 9th for my area):
  • Raised beds. As soon as I get the birds moved (soon, Lord, please!) I will build a couple of raised beds in the back yard. Having the annual vegetable garden closer to the back door will make it easier to maintain and harvest. The other areas of the yard will be for mostly perennials (except for some vining crops that will need trellising). 
  •  Pea & Spinach. I need to get spinach seeded in the next week or so. I won't have the raised beds built but I do have the tires I can set up for planting.
  • Carrots & beet. Time to be sowing these outdoors as well. I had not intended to plant annuals around the plum trees again but since the raised beds are not ready, I may need to use those beds for one more season.
  • Soil. Work the soil--work in amendments and/or cover crops. I am working to spread the tree shreds/mulch I received this winter. I am spreading it thick a la "Back to Eden" garden fashion. Once I have it spread, I want to top dress with rabbit manure and other amendments and then let it set for a season or two before planting into it. 
Week 6 before Average Date of Last Frost (February 16th for my area):
  • Onions. Sow seeds outdoors if soil is workable. I did sow some onion seeds last Fall. I have more that I did not sow. As soon as the weather is better, I need to get the rest of the onions planted.
  • Chard, kale, carrot, radish, beet, turnip, kohlrabi, parsnip. Sow outdoors in prepared garden soil. I recently discovered that I really like chard so I need to order seed. As soon as possible, I need to get these cool season vegetables sown outdoors in hopes of a good season. 
In addition to these pressing issues are pre-existing issues and new ones caused by the strong winds of the last week. I need to get the birds into their new housing and their new run fenced in so I can turn my attentions to the rabbitry. Moving the rabbits was --until this week-- more an issue of wanting more space to have more rabbits. The high winds have damaged the rabbit shed roof and pushed the urgency of getting the rabbitry up several notches.

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