Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Lingering winter

I took this photo of plum trees and spicebush shrubs in our backyard following what the St. Louis National Weather Service has dubbed the Palm Sunday Winter Storm. The official snowfall total at Lambert Field, around 10 miles from our house, was 12.7 inches of snow. I measured 12.0 inches in my backyard, but some melting may have already occurred before I made the measurement. As is typical of late season snowstorms, the snow was quite wet and heavy. Until the breeze picked up later in the morning and the air warmed slightly above freezing, the snow clung to shrubs and trees. The weight of the snow brought down a branch of the blue spruce in the side yard. That branch fell on the nearby blueberry shrub, breaking one of its branches off. Another shrub, a spiraea, suffered stem breakage from the weight of the snow on it. As more of the snow melts, I will check to see if any other woody plants were damaged.

Today I pricked-out seedlings of bok choy, cabbage, broccoli, cosmos, and zinnia from the flat in which each was started into individual cell packs. It was a good activity for a cold, snowy, but sunny afternoon. It felt like winter outside, but on the porch the temperature climbed to 80F.
A year ago, spring came very early and I did not respond in time, losing some unknown portion of the yield I could have gotten from my spring garden. This year I am late getting the ground prepared, not only because we were out of town for several days a few weeks back but also because of the lingering winter weather. Until the snow melts, I won't be able to begin preparation for the peas and onions that should have already been planted, much less the next set of seeds that I should have been preparing for now. Once the snow melts I'll have to check the soil temperature to find out if it is high enough to support seed germination now that we have had a week of very much below average temperatures. A week ago I measured the soil temperature at around 48-50F, which would have been warm enough for many of the spring crops I wanted to plant. I hope it hasn't dropped much. All of this is a good reminder that despite whatever I'd like to think, I'm not in control and nature has no obligation to grant me or anyone else the sort of world we think we should have. The best I can do is try to respond in a timely and appropriate way to whatever is actually happening - and in this case it is winter lingering on.

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