The tug-of-war between winter and spring still wages, and my money is on winter for at least the next 3 weeks or so. But we’ve had a couple of days in the high 40s followed by some rain this afternoon through tomorrow, resulting in some much needed snow melt. Of course we now have pools of water inches deep throughout the yard, but at this stage, I welcome soggy ground over snow.
As the snow recedes from the borders in the front yard, I can see some signs of life as the green tips of the daffs and tulips begin to break through the thawing soil.
We’re not expecting warm temps this weekend — mostly mid to high 30s — but no rain, so I’m going to get a jump on some of the early spring chores. This first unpleasant chore to tackle will be the dreaded cleaning of the sheep barn. I use a deep bed method to keep the little cherubs warm and dry over the winter, which works beautifully for them — not so much for me when it comes time to heave mounds and mounds of “spent” hay out of the barn.
I quickly lose count over the number of trips I make with the very heavily laden wheel barrow as I create new piles of future compost. After 6-7 hours of work, I top off the newly cleaned dirt floor with some fresh bedding hay, sweep the cobwebs out of the rafters, replace the lightbulbs, clean the windows and call it a day (or two).
Also on the chore list is the continued sowing of seeds inside; this will continue until 3-4 weeks before our last anticipated frost – somewhere around May 19-22. As of today, I have roughly 250 cells planted with Sweet William, Pinks, Foxglove, lots of Salvia, Helenium (which has yet to germinate – anyone know how long this should take?), Valerian, Centranthus Ruber, marigolds, Summer Savory, Lovage, Anise Hyssop, Lemon Balm, Triple Curled Parlsey, Walla Wallas, Chocolate Bell Peppers (also not germinated yet – losing hope), Black Hungarian Peppers, and Dorata di Parma onions, along with 4 flats of red onions, leeks, and chives. I’ll pot out some of the larger seedlings this weekend and sow a couple more 50-packs of the 6 week seeds (more peppers, tomatoes, 2nd sowing on onions, and probably some Asclepias tuberosa (aka Butterfly weed)). I’m expanding one of the borders in the front yard this spring to become a new pollinator border; much of the Sweet William, pinks, Foxglove, Anise, Centranthus Ruber and Butterfly Weed will find a home there. More on my plans for this border in a later post. I wish I had room to house more seedlings, but my makeshift nursery is located in our front guestroom where I setup 4 large grow lights and space is at a premium. I can usually squeeze in between 400-500 seedlings at most.
I’ll also get a few of the more special dahlias into pots; the majority are just stuck in the ground after the last frost.
I have way too many of them, and not enough pots, potting soil and space! Truth be told, I’ve never noticed much of a change in bloom time between those started inside and those just plopped into the soil in mid to late May.
At any rate, despite Winter’s tenacity, I’m pushing towards Spring.