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January 2018, Week 4, The January Thaw, Warmth, Wind, Fire, Seeds...

I cannot believe we are starting the fourth week of the month and year already.

This week we're enjoying the fabled January thaw and it feels great to be outdoors on sunny, warm days with above-average temperatures. Daytime temperatures will drop a little bit as the week goes on, but this weather is still a big improvement over last week's weather.

The winds are picking up as they tend to do at this time of year and we now are in the midst of the winter fire season. It will last until we green up enough for the fire risk to drop substantially(generally that occurs sometime after the month of March), so let's hope for an early green-up. In the meantime, fire danger will vary depending on the conditions daily and today it is Extreme in western and southwestern OK, with a Red Flag Warning in place not just for those areas but for adjacent areas in Texas. Despite the wind today, I hope to spend a lot of time outdoors cleaning up the garden and getting it ready for the planting season. The Fire Weather Watch for the counties along the I-35 corridor was dropped this morning, but many of those counties have the Red Flag Warning ending literally at their western county line so folks in these counties still must be watchful---the slightly higher relative humidity along the I-35 corridor should have keep our fire danger down to only very high or high today.

For many of us, seed-starting time either is here or nearly here. I bet some of you who are winter sowing this year might be doing that today? I don't winter sow but might start seeds of cool-season plants indoors under lights this week so I can have transplants ready to go into the ground about 4-6 weeks from now.

I ordered veggie seeds last week from 5 online retailers on the same day last week, and was careful to order all of them on the same day so I could see who was fastest in shipping the seeds to me. (Not a scientific test, but I like doing this, and the results are remarkably consistent from one year to the next.) So far, the results have been about what I expected. The seeds from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange arrived first, with seeds from Willhite Seeds arriving one day later. A couple of days later, the Heirloom Marriage seeds (Big Brandy, Cherokee Carbon and Genuwine) I ordered from Totally Tomatoes arrived. We'll see which of the remaining two arrive next. I am easily entertained by things like this is the dead of winter when it normally is cold, cloudy and I am bored.

Drought drags on, especially for western portions of the state. With below-average rainfall expected over the next few weeks, we likely will see the drought continue to deepen and expand. I am going to be adding more organic matter than usual to the planting beds in an effort to help them hold more moisture during the growing season. That effort begins today with the bed where I intend to plant my onions about 3 weeks from now. I'm beginning to get excited as planting season approaches.

I haven't had much time to spend in the stores lately so don't know what's arrived this week in the stores near us, except that our Wal-Mart does have some bulbs, its seed displays and seed starting merchandise in stores now (along with tons of chemical lawn and garden products, and not so many organic ones yet, which is odd because the last couple of years they've had tons of organics on the shelves). I only ran through that area very briefly last night but didn't see any seed potatoes, asparagus plants, or bare root strawberry plants in the store yet. They usually are there by now, so this particular store is running a bit behind its usual schedule.

We need to buy chicken bedding today and clean out the chicken coop and then refill it with fresh bedding, so hopefully I'll get to see what either Atwood's or TSC have in stock while we're there getting the chicken bedding. And, cleaning out the coop means the compost pile is going to get fed today too, so it's always a happy day for the compost pile when it gets fed a nice winter meal. The compost from the pile getting fed today will not be going into the garden anytime soon.

What's new with y'all this week?


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