Sunday, February 25, 2018

Spring is Not Yet Sprung

DEBORAH CROMBIE: LAST Sunday, it was 70 degrees here on the north Texas prairie, the sun was shining, and the birds were singing like mad. 

I found this in my garden.

And this--the elms had burst into bud literally overnight.

I walked all around the garden, checking on things. The spirea had the faintest hint of green, there were buds on the oak leaf hydrangeas. And all my roses, including the new ones I'd planted last year to replace those lost to rose rosette virus--had tiny leaf buds. It's been a long, cold winter here, with temperatures way below our usual, and I was afraid many things wouldn't have survived. I lost all the things I usually manage to overwinter on my deck and porch, too.

But, whoopie, SPRING, and new life! Fantasies of gardening took flight!

And, then... came Monday. The sky to the west turned the color of an old bruise, the temperature fell, and the rains came. And came, and came, and came.

We had almost 8 inches of rain in 7 days!!!!! Our county reservoir went from 88% to flood pool in 3 days!!!!!!!!!! I've never seen the water rise that fast. In the counties just to our west, the rain turned to ice, leaving trees decimated and people without power for days. We, fortunately, are just a horrible, soggy mess. Don't even talk to me about muddy dogs...

But, today, the sun is shining again, the temperature is reputedly getting back up to 60, and there is no rain in the forecast for TWO days!

Back to the fantasies! I'm contemplating Grow Tubs 

from my favorite organic gardening catalog, GARDENS ALIVE.  I'm even thinking about planting some summer veggies from seed--I, who have never started anything from seed, and have never managed to keep a tomato plant alive through the Texas summer...

Iron Lady Tomato from Gardens Alive

(Does anyone really manage to grow tomatoes that look like this?)

But hope springs eternal (excuse the pun) and I think there is something embedded in our human nature that makes us want to grow things with the change of season.

Fairytale Hybrid Eggplant from Gardens Alive

What about you, REDS and readers? Any dreams of tomatoes and peppers and squash, or even a pot of herbs?


  1. The garden is John’s domain. And, well, no, our tomatoes never look quite like that . . . but soon we’ll be planting the vegetables, including squash, peppers, and onions.
    The herb garden is my project; rosemary, cilantro, basil, and parsley will soon be growing in a large tub on the front porch . . . .

  2. When I was farming I would have already started the leeks and onions, the broccoli and cabbage seedlings. I hear certain birds, even when it's cold and snowy, and know it's almost time to prune the fruit trees. This year I have a brand new big waist-high box to fill with potting soil and compost for my greens. It's on metal legs and I hope it foils one of the gardener's arch-enemies, the woodchuck. And there is already so much light in the sky and certain birds have returned, so spring is on it's way, my frigid morning fingers notwithstanding.

  3. The instant the sun came out yesterday I was out in my garden, assessing the damage. I may have lost one miniature rose, but the other roses looked okay. I did a little light pruning on the biggest bush. It will be hard to tell for a while if some of the native plants made it through the exceptional cold snap but some of them are clearly thriving, and hey, the spring plant sales are coming!

    I'm not much of a vegetable gardener, but my neighbor across the street is, and he brought me three perfect tomatoes from his garden last year that were exceptionally tasty. I think there's hope for perfection in yours, too. You probably need a sunnier spot, though.

  4. There was, for a moment, a glimpse of sun this morning. The other day I was at the library and noticed, in all those carefully manicured and tended beds, that spring flowers were sending up shoots. I haven't had the courage to look around my own yard yet. And it's a good thing I don't have any gardening catalogues on hand--because I'd be planning ambitious overhauls of old beds and new beds and--well, there's just me to tend it all. But the tubs of veggies sound enticing, along with a planter on the porch and the patio...hmmm, better start planning!

  5. I've had the pleasure of partaking from the bounty in Lucy's garden. Some years, her tomatoes DO look like that. We don't have enough sun and I'm not a consistent water-er so a pot of herbs is more my speed. We had a warm spell and now it's gone wintery again. Thank goodness. Because IT'S STILL FEBRUARY!

  6. I am glad your weather is decent today. Spring will come!

  7. Don't remind me. This year is going to be a big challenge, because we'll break ground on the new house in April sometime. I'll have my hands full with overseeing a blue million decisions, so have plans (we'll see how this goes) to start what will end up being a new garden down the street where we're building (half a mile from where we live now). My garden an hour away in Kentucky will provide asparagus, garlic, and raspberries this year, and maybe some herbs, but not much else.

    I took a class last week on straw bale gardening from one of my instructors in the Master Gardening program, and I think I'm going to try this. My challenge will be finding a way to keep it watered if we have dry weather. Why can't the last ten days of incessant rain have held off until I got that started?

    The weather is so uncooperative, isn't it?

    Straw bale gardening, by the way, would help those of you with poor soil or hot conditions, as long as you keep the bales watered and fertilized. Potatoes are an especially good crop, as well as tomatoes and beans. Lots of good info on the web on how to start.

    Hallie, many things grow in pots, and in the shade. Lettuce, spinach, and other leafy greens do especially well with less sun and heat.

    1. I've wanted to start a straw garden, just because, but I can't get Julie excited about it. Maybe because she's the one who would have to hump the bales of straw around.

    2. The secret is to heft them into place before you wet them down. They can gain as much as 60 pounds apiece when they've been fully seasoned.

  8. Oh Deb, I'm right there with you. We got a seed catalogue in the mail last week, about the time the temp went up to 70 and all the snow melted. Never fear. It didn't last.

    I love to grow things, but luckily, Julie has taken over the garden. What I do is plan, plant and tend pots. Pots of tomatoes. We also grow a lot of yellow was beans and green Kentucky Wonders. And herbs. Tons of herbs. Fortunately Rochester has rain almost every night during the summer, so after things are established, I rarely have to water again.

    Herbs are weeds anyway. I plant them in the ground in unlikely places and forget them. Some come up year after year, like parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme -- I could write a song about that -- We also plant basil, chives, and tarragon, and there's a bed of mint by the garden hose that keeps itself contained somehow.

    One of my favorite things is to snag some neighborhood kids and show them all the edibles in the garden. At least they all love the mint, and someone says, every year, "Ann is growing gum!"

  9. A few weeks ago I picked up a copy of the Whole Seed Catalogue at my local B&N--oh my gosh, vegetable mania!!! I know, however, that I'm much better at looking at pretty pictures of things than actually growing them in the heat of a Texas summer. I also know I will never manage to prep beds with our black gumbo soil, hence the pots or Grow Tubs. Karen and Ann, I'm intrigued by the straw bale garden! Will look them up!

    I always have rosemary, lavender, and mint in the south bed (where I would put the grow tubs) and basil, thyme, more rosemary, and tarragon in pots on the deck. Lemon balm grows like a weed in that south bed, too.

    And, yay, next Saturday our farmer's market opens for the season!

  10. We had several days of temperatures in the high 40s and a few things started to respond, but then this last week we had three consecutive days of snow, and that put a halt to that. The Maples and the Stewartia trees are budding out, and the Roses are waking up, but they will be pruned back when the Forsythia start to bloom (our signal to prune Roses and several other things here in western Oregon). We don't even have Daffodil blooms yet. Our "last frost" date here is mid May, so any planting waits until then, which seems a long time off.

  11. Love to grow tomatoes and zucchini! Love potted flowers! I especially enjoy geraniums! I live in the Pacific NW. A story about growing tomatoes in the Puget Sound Area of the Pacific Northwest that sticks in my mind is from the book The Living by Annie Dillard. The book is about the harsh lives of the early settlers (1850) of the Northwest. In it a young couple who spend their days doing the hard work of survival in the endless forests of giant evergreens and fir trees, have a moment of hilarity when, during the fall, when the rains are returning, the husband whitewashes a circle on the side of their barn and they spend some time throwing green tomatoes at it! Yes, we can grow tomatoes here but I have found using 2-3 foot starter plants insures we will have tomatoes before fall.

  12. It's been colder than normal in Phoenix. I'm trying to like it since it will be in the 90's nay day, but I have been spending a lot of time looking at plants. In AZ, I have much the same gardening challenges, Debs. Lately, I've been fascinated by air plants - tillandsia - they require no soil as they get their sustenance from particulates in the air. I just bought two - we'll see!

  13. It's been colder than normal in Seattle, too. That said, the hanging flower baskets on the downtown streetlamps have survived, and I imagine the cherry trees will blossom in the coming weeks. We don't have room for a garden, but I love the produce that each new season brings to the market!

  14. The other day I walked around our whole garden, after a day of 70°, and yelled at the tulips and crocuses: “go back go back go back!” Last year everything came up too soon and got incredibly frostbitten. I am crossing fingers that the climate stays the way it is supposed to. Ha ha Ha.

  15. Bizarre is the only word for this winter's weather -- we have had it all (Connecticut) and a warmish, sunny/rainy week ahead. I am prepared for Easter snow.

  16. I mostly grow flowers and herbs but I always had one tomato plant. Last year the squirrels took bites out of the fruits even when they were green so I had to pick them green and let them ripen inside. If that happens this year, it's the farmers' market for me!