Posted by: A Part of the Solution | March 16, 2012

Spring Again!

It’s spring again in zone 5 up in the south central Alleghenies. The crocuses have been out for a full week. The wind flowers are nodding merrily in the beds. The daffodils are springing open on an hourly basis. The Japonica quince in the front yard is heavy with buds which look like they’ll be opening tomorrow.

This winter hardly set in at all. The ground didn’t freeze deeply as it has in our past winters here. At the end of the second week of March, we’re a month ahead of where we were last year in terms of soil temperature. As of this morning, we could legitimately plant spinach, chard, peas, lettuces, onions, kale, cabbage and potatoes.

The weather’s been dry enough we’ve even been prepping  the Massey-Ferguson tractor for her season’s labors. And we’ve had the walk-behind tractor out in the house garden for the last seven days. As I write, the farm manager and our long-term WWOOFer are laying out the lines for the pea bed. They’ll scatter fertilizer and cross till that in once the plot is strung and squared. Then we’ll load up the seeder–first stopping alternate seeding pockets on the plate with beeswax, of course. And that would be to save time thinning the subsequent seedlings. We have so much space, we really don’t have to crowd our plants, but we never seem to have enough pairs of hands to do all that needs doing. As a consequence, we’d rather save time with fewer seeds going into the ground.

We re-pruned the mature apple trees on the home acres only two or three weeks ago. With expert advice and assistance, and chainsaws–let alone pruning hooks and handsaws, we took hundreds and hundreds of pounds of wood off the established apple trees. We anticipate fewer bug, mold and fungus problems this year. And we anticipate more apples coming to sound maturity in the autumn. We’re still not pruning the little apple trees in the orchard down by the pond. They’re taking a while to get into the groove. And we want them to be very comfortable before we put them into training. The saplings will wait another year before we start shaping them for their future as an orchard.

And our cherry trees have begun arriving. Ordinarily, they ship the third or fourth week of March, as there’s still plenty of frosty nights to go in that part of the calendar when you’re growing in Zone 5. This year, it may be a race to see if we can get the trees into the ground before we run out of below freezing nights to convince the little trees they’re still dormant and need not take any notice of being transplanted.

Oh, and our pigs are moving into reproductive high gear. The ladies in the barn, Ruby and Garnet, will have piglets ready to be weaned at about the same time as the forest kicks into high gear and becomes the mother of all found food sources. Our pigs know what time of year it is.

As do the song birds and blue birds and mocking birds. As do the spring peepers down at the pond. As does the owl hunting in the woods behind the house. Happy spring, y’all!

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