It’s that time of year. I’m itching to start summer vegetable seeds, to rip off the row cover, to spend whole days out in the sunshine, to see masses of spring flowers appear in the pollinator gardens. It’s a desperate feeling, and one that cannot be soothed with nice family dinners in the still-early-dark, or browsing seed catalogs, or even walking around the garden. I imagine all creatures in the Northern Hemisphere feel a similar restlessness, whether still dealing with snow and ice, or dreary wet, or just grey skies.
Our property has been inundated with water. The west coast hosted an atmospheric river that flowed through our sky and simply dumped rain at the lower elevations, snow at the higher. This is good. This is necessary. This is exactly what California needs. All of that is true, but it does make for dampened spirits. I am thanking our December selves for obtaining and spreading all those wood chips, as they do a really good job of soaking up a lot of moisture and keeping us mud-free. But our hard landscape surfaces were standing lakes for a good week, and the chickens were miserable inside their coop, looking forlornly out at the rain.
February 15 is our last average frost date, but ‘average’ is the key word there, because we’ll have frosty nights this coming week. So I can’t take the row covers off just yet, even though I’m dying to. I bought a cheaper brand that is barely hanging on, having been ripped to shreds by our high winds and rain. Agribon holds together much better, but it comes in inconvenient sizes and is so much more expensive. Still, once we’ve used up our roll of the cheap stuff, I’ll go back to Agribon. Even though it’s low-quality stuff, the row covers have done their job, protecting all the winter veg from the elements, while still letting in light and moisture. Everything is looking good and tasting good, and that’s really the most important thing about having a winter garden - providing lots of food in the colder months.
However the canning shelf is looking light in everything but pickles, and I yearning for a fresh strawberry. It’ll be a while yet.
I’ll start my veg seeds the first weekend of March, as I always do, in hopes that I can plant them out the first weekend of May. I already know where everything is going to go, planning the summer garden is long since a completed task, and now I just wait. The internet is full of gardeners starting seeds, so it’s hard to resist that urge. From experience I know that it’s best to put it off a while yet.
Meanwhile in the open spaces the wild almond trees have begun to flower, and I’ve seen the first of the poppies, and wild mustard is starting to make its robust presence known. I notice an increase in bird activity, and the bees are loving the cold sunshine. Soon we will need to add some room to their hive, and swarm season will be upon us. Vector control says it’s time to start putting out yellow jacket traps in hopes of catching the early queens, but I don’t usually start to see them until March. Once in a while I see a native bumblebee, but mostly they are still hibernating. I’m hoping that things will really start to wake up in March, and thats the time this restless feeling will go away.