Sunday, March 21, 2010

Out Like A Lion

This has been a really hard winter. In fact, I think that if I were to compare my prairie life to the Little House books, this would definitely parallel "The Long Winter," including the death-defying runs for supplies in blinding snow. I first saw the possibility of a late snow in the long-range weather forecast last week and hoped it was just a mistake. We've had brilliantly sunny days in the 60s and low 70s for a week or two now, with the drama of winter melting into memory as plants grew and blossoms bloomed.

Too bad. Mother Nature decided to remind us who was boss. Throughout Thursday and Friday, the reports of what to expect kept getting progressively worse, with an eventual forecast of 5 inches of snow, 40 mph winds, and windchill temps in the teens. I decided to get up on Friday morning and run by a local hay producer that had been recommended to me so I could cover the garden with a thick layer of insulating hay.**

For all of the issues that Toyota has been facing in the last few months, I have to say that my Matrix ('07, no recalls) has been an INDISPENSABLE gardening tool, thanks to the fold-down flat seats with plastic covers. It turns from Momobile to truck nearly instantly.

**For those who know, HAY is not the product that I should have purchased. This was the first thing that went wrong on Friday. I described what I was using the hay for to the salespeople at the hay producer, and they told me to buy this product. But once I got home and started spreading it out, I instantly knew that this seed-laden stuff would eventually mean a ridiculous amount of weeding in my future. What I should have bought was STRAW. I really can't imagine why they sold me hay, other than they could tell I was a clueless Yankee suburbanite and they could make more on pricey hay than cheap straw.

Regardless, time was running out, so I had to spread the offending hay. I'm going to try to rake out as much as I can as soon as it warms up next week. We covered all of Quad 1 with a thick layer of hay and a huge plastic tarp to protect the peas, lettuce, spinach, and other goodies from the snow and hard freeze.

Of course, my beloved peach tree started blooming on Friday, just like it did last year before a late freeze. Last year all of the blooms were killed and we went a whole year without seeing if the tree would produce fruit. This year, I wanted to give the tree a fighting chance. But first, I made sure to take lots of blossom pictures just in case they were all destroyed again.

I grabbed some leftover garden fabric to wrap around the tree to try to give it some insulation from the frozen air. I think between the table of milk jugs, unfinished shed, and the wrapped up trees, my next-door neighbors probably shake their heads every day and mourn their property values.

If you don't think this is crazy enough, you know you can depend on me to over do it. I read online that stringing Christmas lights in a fruit tree might help protect it from a hard freeze. So I had to try it.

After 48 hours of hard winds, this garden fabric has lots of holes and I ran out every few hours to safety pin sections closed. I did see some freeze damage, but the buds closer to the trunk of the tree appear to still be in tact and unfrozen. We'll see tomorrow when I pull off the cover and take out the Christmas lights.

Of course, when something can go wrong, it always does. Just as I was finishing getting everything covered up, I saw that the wind had blown over 3 of my cauliflower seedlings from where they were enjoying the last warm afternoon in the sun for a few days. That meant I had no choice but to put them in the ground. I can't think of a worse time to plant tender seedlings than right before a blizzard, can you? I covered them with a cloche made from the tops of milk jugs, which worked really well...except 2 of them blew away yesterday. Don't get attached to anything in Oklahoma unless it's nailed down. I stuck 2 new cloches over the exposed seedlings this morning, but they looked pretty sad. I don't know if they'll make it.

Then, yesterday morning as I was sleeping in and pretending the blizzard wasn't happening, Joe took it upon himself to turn over the flats of herb seedlings and marigold sprouts on my kitchen table. Bill tried his best to get everything cleaned up before I woke up, but the marigolds were kaput.

Oof. I'm seriously ready for spring and a mild summer. Is that too much to ask?

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