Wondering - -

soonergrandmomJanuary 18, 2010

Is it Spring yet?

I got this in my email and don't know who to give credit to, but it is cute and expresses my mind and mood exactly.

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LOL!!! My sentiments EXACTLY! Thanks for the smile!

But I've got to warn....so far the outlook for the rest of January is pretty warm and rosy...but I've been reading the Farmer's Almanac and it says February is going to at least 4 degrees colder on an average temp than usual. Yuck. Maybe Dawn has some weather site that can forecast something a bit more positive? Sure as heck hope so....

Regardless - I'm starting my Romaine and Cabbage tomorrow as well as winter sowing some herbs....I've just GOT to get my hands in the dirt or...or....what's left of my sanity will be in the garbage.


    Bookmark   January 18, 2010 at 12:37AM
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Paula, you're too funny!

Such a cute, insightful photo! He is wishing he could rip that hat off! Heehee!

I am going to try to start some wintersowing. I know, I know, I'm later than usual, but having car problems presents some difficulty in getting to HD or Lowe's for my soil. I've only been doing the necessary shopping for food, prescriptions, etc. because when one has to rely on someone else for errands, it seems superfluous to shop for potting soil. Hopefully will get there this week sometime.


    Bookmark   January 18, 2010 at 8:33AM
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I think we are all feeling like that little chap - he is certainly adorable. I too have heard that around the mid/end of February there will be another "significant" winter blast. My twins were born Feb '71 - we had one of the worst snowstorms I've ever seen, even the fenceposts were drifted over - we lived in a rural area and the neighbors had to take dozers to clear the roads so we could all get out.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2010 at 9:20AM
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Thanks Carol for the picture. Overall I can't complain about Jan. Have seen lots worse here. From what I'm seeing I expect another cold bout from the 1st to mid Feb and then an improvement. From Mid Dec to Mid Feb always concerns me here. After that we normally don't see the extended severe cold spells. Some of our worst blizzards can be in late Feb and March. But they usually melt faster and don't stay on the ground like if they come in mid Dec or Jan. So overall pleased with the winter so far. Keep telling myself it could be a lot worse. My critters are showing signs of another cold blast coming. Most of the geese and ducks have moved further south. This is the first winter in around 4 years that several haven't overwintered here. When they show back up I'll know spring is on it's way. Doesn't mean we won't see a bad day or two. My rule of thumb is no extended cold after Feb 10th and no severe cold zero and low single digits after Feb 20th. When I used to bring in cattle from Old Mexico I would wait till Feb 20th. The Farmers Almanac has hit you all fairly well but missed us bad this year. Will try to winter sow some tomatoes in the cold frames over the next few weeks. Jay

    Bookmark   January 18, 2010 at 9:36AM
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That is way cute!! I am in the same boat. I was just telling my mil that this weather is just taunting us into thinking spring will be earlier than usual. Ya right, like Oklahoma weather could ever be "normal" !! lol

I am also starting wintersowing this week. I don't know if I'm late or what, but I figured it's better late than never. I have some perennials and annuals that I want to get planted. Also, want to get some veggies going. Thinking about tomatoes, lettuce, and cabbage. Has anyone ever wintersown cucumbers?


    Bookmark   January 18, 2010 at 10:05AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Carol, What an appropriate photo that captures what we're all feeling....winter has to be over, right? Nope. I think that is wishful thinking on our part. Like Jay,I expect cold weather to return pretty strongly in February.

Paula, Weather sites I follow agree with Jay....for those of us seeing nicer weather right now, the colder weather patterns return in February and perhaps with a vengeance.

C'mon y'all, I know it is easy to get excited about warmer temperatures and sunshine, but it is only January! To be honest, I don't think January weather or even February weather have been an accurate predictor of March-April weather here for us in southern Oklahoma since 2005 or 2006. No matter what the weather has done in Jan. and Feb. since then, we have had a prolonged spell of colder than average weather around Easter and recurring frosts/freezes deep in to April, so 'planting early' are too words I've removed from my vocabulary. It does me no good to get all excited and plant early if I am going to lose the plants to very cold weather a month or two later.

If you must, must, must give in to temptation and plant early and don't want to lose those plants to cold weather when it returns, plant whatever would make you happy in one row and then cover that row with a low tunnel using PVC or electrical conduit for the hoops and a sturdy 6mm or heavier plastic (I'd use a greenhouse plastic because it is so much tougher and stronger) attached to the hoops.

If you haven't seen low tunnels, look at them in the link below from the Johnny's Selected seeds catalog. You don't need a hoops bender like the one Johnny's sells to make low tunnels (but that doesn't stop me from wanting one of them). They're easy to make with PVC pipe, but the PVC pipe may bend or even break if a heavy snow falls on your tunnels.

Or, you can plant a few things early in containers that can be moved inside when cold weather returns. If I felt like I just had to plant something, that's probably what I'd do....and, so far, I am not even going to do that.

Also, check your soil temps. While the air temperatures and sunshine will make us feel 'warm' this week and maybe even next week, the soil is still cold and the plant roots have to grow in the soil.

Another thing to consider...very warm weather in January following very cold weather in December is a disaster in the making for our fruit trees. If our fruit trees have already received the required number of chilling hours, they are going to go crazy with warmer weather and begin blooming too early. Then, when more normal temperatures return (and we all know they will), the blossoms and small fruit will freeze and we'll have no fruit crop again this year. So, we should be hoping for cooler weather to keep the fruit trees from blooming too soon.

I'm in no hurry to start anything early because there's a little voice in my head telling me not to do it. I usually listen to that little voice in my head, especially if it is telling me to eat chocolate or not to plant too early.

Do I want to go out and play in the dirt and sow seeds, etc. Sure I do, but it's too early and I'm not going to do it.


Here is a link that might be useful: Quick Hoops at Johnny's

    Bookmark   January 18, 2010 at 10:28AM
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Since we're on the subject of wintersowing and starting seeds, I think I need help getting a game plan together as far as the timing. I've never started with seeds before much less wintersowing. So, as an experiment, I've decided to do both. After reading several wintersowning sites, I think I understand the "how to" with respect to the containers but I'm more concerned about the "when".

I suspect following the discussions here will help with the timing of starting seeds indoors but I'm less confident about timing the wintersown veggies. I understand some veggies (peppers, tomatoes) are very picky about cold weather so they should probably wait awhile but the others?!?

If this helps, here's what I plan to grow this season:

* Bell peppers, jalapenos, habaneros, anaheims, cayenne, banana peppers
* Pole beans, bush beans, snow peas, sweet peas, edamame
* Broccoli, brussels, cabbage, radicchio, carrots, lettuce, spinach, radish, leeks
* Cucumbers, zucchini
* Tomatoes, tomatoes and more tomatoes (!)
* possibly cantaloupe, watermelon, pumpkins
* Onions and potatoes are coming in plant form so they'll go directly in the garden shortly after they arrive.

If the specific variety of something makes a difference in timing, I can follow-up with more details. This is all so totally new to me and I truly, truly do not want to mess things up right out of the starting gate.

I appreciate any and all guidance offered. I've learned so much following your discussions here. I'm sure I'll make mistakes along the way (and that's okay) but I'd rather go into this armed with as much info as I can get so maybe the 'hits' will be more than the 'misses'.

Thanks again!!!

    Bookmark   January 18, 2010 at 11:41AM
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It looks like we are finally going to see a stretch of nice weather, but it has only been a few days since our Christmas Eve snow melted so I am not in a hurry to plant.

I am, however, in a hurry to work in my garden and get it ready to plant and it is still very wet. Today is sunny and supposed to hit 60, but with showers predicted for later in the week, it will just prolong being able to start on my garden.

I have milk jugs and potting soil and I might do a little winter sowing in the next couple of weeks for a few flowers, but veggies can wait. It isn't that I wouldn't like to play in the dirt, it is that I don't want to tend a light set-up for that many weeks. It's OK if you only grow a few, but if you have many plants and they start growing to the point that they need to be in larger pots then it just becomes too cumbersome to handle. I probably have another month before I can do much at all. Ask me how I know. LOL

I planted a lot of flowers last year that will come back and bloom and I really need to see what size they are going to be before I add too many more. I scattered a few poppie seed last week and I am hoping that they will germinated because I have tried transplanting them and didn't have success. I don't have a lot of flower beds because I have a lot of shade. I really don't want to have a lot of flowers that I have to fuss with this year because I am most interested in the veggie garden. We still need to replace a storage shed also and after that is done, I may put in another bed next to it. I have never been able to plant there because of the two cedar trees, that have now been removed. I have lots of work to do.

PS - I ordered two pairs of the ugliest Crocs you can imagine, but no one EVER said they were for looks. LOL

    Bookmark   January 18, 2010 at 11:49AM
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owiebrain(5 MO)

Dawn, it's Monday. Monday's are bad enough without that kind of reality-type talk. I sure do wish you'd learn to lie! LOL

I'm in the final stretch of finishing up my other projects this week, then I get to start reclaiming the greenhouse and do some wintersowing at least. I'm going crazy!


    Bookmark   January 18, 2010 at 12:32PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


I'll start out with a big sigh. (sigh) I just thought someone needed to sling around a big dose of reality here because it doesn't take much for all of us to become giddy with sunlight/warmth and start planting things we shouldn't.

I hate the weather this week, and I know that makes me sound insane. It is sunny and warm (66 degrees here on our front porch at 1:30 p.m.) and gorgeous. If the ground weren't total muddy from this weekend's rainfall, I'd be out digging in the ground right now. We were still incredibly wet from the snowfall/rainfall we received earlier and just a little rainfall re-moistened the surface soil that was finally drying up.

It is the kind of day when you can pretend winter is over, put on the flip-flops and short-sleeves and work outside until you're sunburned....because, of course, it doesn't take much for winter skin to burn when exposed to several hours of real sun. It is the kind of day when you want to dig and plant and imagine the early arrival of spring.

What's wrong with a day like today? Nothing, except it tricks us into believing winter is more or less over and it isn't. That's just the point I was trying to make. Winter is not over no matter how much we want to believe it is.

We've had grass fires breaking out a little here today, and that's something we haven't had in months and months. I hope that kind of stuff isn't about to start up. And, too much heat/Gulf moisture moving up out of the south could ultimately lead to severe weather with thunderstorms and tornadoes. (For those of you who've forgotten, Lone Grove (just north of the county line between Love County and Carter County) had a pretty severe tornado last February. It is too early for us to have to worry about that kind of stuff....but early 'hot' weather can cause that to happen.

I'm as eager as the rest of you for spring to arrive, but it is January and we need to remember where we live and that a temporary warm spell isn't going to last long.


    Bookmark   January 18, 2010 at 2:46PM
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I think we all know down deep winter isn't over. I looked at the Farmer's Almanac predictions for us and we should be in brutal cold spells now. So like I've said before. Don't think anyone can predict what will happen. I went and looked at the National Weather service long range forecasts. It shows EC(Equal Chance) for us. Which as they explain means an equal chance temps and moisture for the next month could be Above Normal, Below Normal or Normal. LOL. What a way to beat around the bush. And just how much are they getting paid? They do say they will update their prediction for Feb again the 21st. They do say Dawn will be below normal temp wise. And I can't remember moisture wise. But think maybe above normal. From the critters I was thinking that another really cold spell was coming. But one of my dogs is shedding big time. She will freeze if it gets real cold now. So not sure what mother nature is telling her. But the geese and ducks haven't returned yet.

Guess I'd better get outside and enjoy it while it lasts. Will do some more planting in the garden and then work some more on the greenhouse. Jay

    Bookmark   January 18, 2010 at 3:51PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Jay, Today it was seventy degrees on the thermometer on our front porch....in the shade. It is gorgeous, but it is still winter.

We also have the first winter wildflower bloom I've seen this year....a tiny Spring Beauty in the front yard. The flower is a couple of weeks early even for this flower, and it is tiny....the whole plant is about the size of a quarter, and not much more above the ground than maybe 1/2", and the flower is about the size of my little fingernail.

Carol, I don't know....the green and orange Off Road Crocs I ordered might compete for 'ugliest' along with yours. LOL

We started what probably will be a long and painful process to move an old 10' x 10' metal shed from the boonies down on the edge of the woods near the swamp up to higher ground near the house. Tim cleaned out some of the junk in it (stuff that he kept for reasons unknown...it is junk!) while I watched for snakes. The rattlesnakes have always loved this shed.

If we ever get it all cleaned out and moved to high, level, relatively snake-free land, it will get a concrete foundation to help keep the snakes out and a paint job to pretty it up, and I'll turn it into a potting shed.

California is just getting pounded this week with rain and snow and wind. I'm afraid that those storms may come really close to us as they make their way eastward across the country. Our earlier snow storms were because of a pattern associated with the Northern Atlantic Oscillation, but I think these west coast storms are more likely associated with the El Nino Southern Oscillation. It is still winter and we have a lot of ugly weather left before the really pretty spring weather arrives.

This week's weather is just the January thaw, and it won't last. Bonnie Plants delivered all kinds of cool-seaon flowers and cool season-veggies to local stores today. Home Depot had a beautiful table of plants with a sign up that said "Rosemary. Topiary $19.95, Bush $11.95." I looked at them and frowned because they weren't rosemary at all. they were Stone Pine trees....unsold 'living Christmas Trees' from the holiday season. You sure cannot believe everything you read on signs at nurseries. There wasn't a rosemary in sight. LOL


    Bookmark   January 18, 2010 at 5:30PM
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I went for a hike and a bike ride yesterday - it felt like spring -- but it is muddy - so I didn't do anything in the garden.

Come on spring!

    Bookmark   January 18, 2010 at 6:57PM
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I don't know where y'all are getting 70 degree weather. I haven't seen anything higher than 50 yet.

Yes, Dawn, I know it's a little early. I've only planted broccoli and some things that I think will need a long time to germinate, under the lights. Broccoli can be set out before the last frost so I think it'll be ok.

Tomato and pepper seeds will wait till next month, though I have started them as early as January 20. That makes for some good-sized plants by April 15, that have to be transplanted several times and take up a lot of space under the lights. It's a lot of work dragging them all out and then in during the hardening off process, but if a person is up for it, it can be done.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2010 at 8:26AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


Well, that's the price you have to pay, unfortunately, for being at the cold end of the state.

The price we will pay for these 70-degree days is that the fruit trees will bud, as they are now, and bloom too early and there will be no stone fruit crop for the third straight year. Well, I had a crop last year....two plums on the Mexican plum tree survived the freezes that occurred after the trees had bloomed and set fruit.

I am about at the point that I am thinking of removing the stone fruit trees and converting their space to veggies and maybe a blackberry patch. I had good crops of fruit about every other year early in this decade and very large crops in 2005 and 2007 but nothing since.

In recent years we've had enough cold weather in Nov./Dec. for them to meet their chilling hour requirement, so as soon as a couple of "freak" warm winter days occur in January, they start budding and blooming, and there's nothing we can do to stop them.

I had much better success in Fort Worth in zone 8 where the cold didn't really arrive until January and it stayed pretty consistently cold long enough for the stone fruit trees to get their chill hours and once it warmed up it stayed warm. Here, it warms up too early and then gets very cold again.

As much as I enjoy the warm days, they are bad for gardeners. They 'wake up' a lot of dormant plants and those plants then suffer damage when the cold winter temperatures return as they always do.

I won't start cool-season crop seeds for a few more weeks because my seed-starting shelf is in a room on the southwestern corner of the house. Even with the heating vent closed, that room gets warmer than I like on sunny winter days and my seedlings grow too fast.

Since warm winter spells are inevitably followed by a return to much colder weather, I'm trying hard to rein myself in and not get too excited by this week's warm weather. I'll enjoy it while it lasts, but won't give in to the urge to plant anything just yet.

There have been plenty of years I've started seeds in January and carried them in/out. Since my plant room is upstairs, I'm not crazy about carrying flats up and down, in and out, for weeks at a time. One year I used the dining room to hold the plants at night and carried them back outside every morning, but that still takes up a lot of time. Ever since the night when our overnight low went to 32 degrees instead of the forecast 50 degrees, I've been a lot more cautious about starting early and hauling stuff in and out. The wildfires haven't helped either. There is nothing worse from coming in from spending a whole day out with the fire dept. and then still having to carry flats of plants inside.

I'm trying to simplify, simplify, simplify without making my harvest start later than necessary. I told Tim if he'd just build me a giant Bio-Dome over an acre or two--and include the garden, fruit trees, and flower beds underneath it, it would make my life a lot easier. He told me to keep on dreaming. LOL


    Bookmark   January 19, 2010 at 10:26AM
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faerybutterflye(7B OK)

Jay and Dawn, thank you for being the experienced voices of reason to rein us all in from wasting our time and money getting over-excited with this warm weather! I am ready for winter to be over too, but I have spent too many birthdays (Feb 24) with snow on the ground 2 hours south of here in TX. I know better than to think this will last...this is Mother Nature giving us a little breath of fresh air.


    Bookmark   January 20, 2010 at 8:40AM
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Let me say, first off, that is definitely okay to wintersow perennials (including trees, shrubs, biennials)and half hardy annuals (like cooler temps like Larkspur), and annuals that reseed (cosmos, zinnias, salvia coccinea 'Coral Nymph', 'Lady in Red', Nigella, Borage. You can probably wintersow peas, carrots, radishes, lettuce, things that prefer cooler temps.

I would wait until the beginning to middle of March to wintersow tomatoes and all the other heat lovers like summer squash, peppers. For eggplant, I would wait until 1st of April to end of April cuz it REALLY likes warmer temps to germinate.

This is the general rule of thumb. I wintersowed tomatoes in the beginning to middle of March in my semi-shady back yard and they did absolutely great! When discussing wintersowing, I mean planting your seeds in a container, not direct sowing cuz the containers do offer protection from critters, and they warm up when the sun is out to provide a "greenhouse" effect. That's why it is preferred to use a cold frame, soda bottles, milk jugs, something that can provide some air flow, and you may have to remove the tops on really warm days to avoid cooking the seedlings. Another reason why I put my containers in a shadier location than the mature plants would normally grow. Winter sun can heat up things considerably in a container. Another advantage to wintersowing is you don't have to harden plants off, which is great for me cuz sometimes I forget to gradually move them into full sun and the poor things get sunburned or worse!

This recommendations are for my zone 7a. Dawn can probably sow hers a bit earlier than me - maybe a week or so earlier. If she chooses to, that is. Just giving an example.

These are not even hard and fast rules of thumb. Sometimes I wintersow later than the suggested dates, but rarely earlier.


    Bookmark   January 20, 2010 at 10:01AM
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