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February 2019, Week 3, Ready, Set, Go? Or, No Go?

This weather is making me crazy. How are y'all doing?

It is only mid-February, but with the way that persistently cold weather, with a little wintery precip mixed in, keeps cycling around every few days, the weather still feels a bit too unsettled for me to begin planting just yet. Still, I feel like I am inching closer and closer to putting something in the ground---perhaps before the end of this week, or perhaps next week. We have been fortunate, so far, that the freezing fog, freezing drizzle, freezing rain, snow flurries or whatever else has hit and is hitting various areas has missed us, but it isn't missing everyone, I guess.

Our soil temperatures aren't too bad but our air temperatures are a bit cooler than I'd like. It hasn't rained here in the last 3 or 4 days so I'm hoping to see puddles drying up and, after that, perhaps the soil even will dry up a bit.

Normally by now I'd at least either have onions in the ground or be on the verge of putting them in the ground, but if I did that now with the cold wet soil, they might rot. I'm having to think hard about where to put them because I want them in the bed that drains the best so that's probably going to be the raised bed where I grew tomatoes, peppers and green beans (as well as various herbs and flowers) last year. I had planned to grow flowers in that bed this year just as a means of rotation, but I think the onions are a hugher priority.

I might plant potatoes this week, though, since their raised bed is 22" above grade level and drains exceptionally well by design. I'd like to rotate them out of it, but that would mean planting in containers because of the voles, and at this point, all the containers are being reserved for tomato plants in case the soil stays persistently wet for the next couple of months.

This might be my week to work on cleaning up the back garden, if I can walk in it without sinking into the mud. We will be cold enough that I wouldn't have to worry about snakes, so at least there's that. I might be able to work in that back garden area by staying only on the pathways and clearing out the plants in the rows between paths. The back garden has very sandy/silty soil and it is hard to get it to hold on to any organic matter, moisture or nutrients, so it is a more challenging place to garden but my original plan was to rotate all the tomato plants back there this year, using the Earl's Hole method of amending for them. Now that I have doubts about whether it will dry out, I may just put down black plastic where the tomatoes are to be grown, and line up all the containers there. When the soil in that area is very wet, it is more like quicksand, whereas the front garden is more like clay pudding when it is very wet. So, I guess I have to decide if I want to work in quicksand this week, or work in clay pudding, or stay indoors. I know that if the sun shines, I won't want to be indoors all the time. I feel like I need to get something done outdoors because by this time next week, we'll have 4 houseguests who are going to be around for a while and I know I'll be spending more time cooking, more time with them, etc. and won't be able to plan each day solely around what gardening I intend to do.

The trees here are eager to bud, flower, leaf out, etc. We are having enough heat on the warm days that there is no stopping them now---they have that fuzzy look about them that screams they are ready to go.

When we were in Denton yesterday, we stopped at the new Duluth Trading Company store there because Tim wanted a new pair of jeans. We like their clothing because it is well-made and holds up well to lots of physical labor outdoors. So, while he tried to find the right pair of jeans, I found some gardening clothing and tools (you knew that I would find those, right?). I bought a hori-hori garden knife and the largest kneeling pad I've ever seen. It is huge and I look forward to using it this year when I'm kneeling in the pathways while working in the beds. Lillie was disappointed that Duluth only carried adult clothing, but she still enjoyed looking at everything, especially all their specialty soaps and other toiletries. She's really into the natural type things and they have a lot of that there.

The sun is shining here a little bit this morning. I don't know if that will last, or if it is just teasing us with a glimpse of sunlight, but it is good to see it. If I could have 3 or 4 days of sunlight this week (which seems unlikely when I look at the forecast), I might get into more of a gardening mood. We're at the critical point now where the tomato seedlings are growing rapidly indoors, and I know that is going to give me planting fever before too long.

I've never waited so calmly and patiently for planting time to arrive as I have this year. This has not felt like the year to try to sneak anything into the ground early, and maybe it isn't even the year to expect to plant everything at about the usual time. I doubt that planting most things a couple of weeks later than usual will matter in the long run, even if waiting makes me feel a little antsy.

Down in Denton yesterday, I saw a Bradford pear in bloom. It was in an apartment complex parking lot and likely benefits from the heat reflected off the apartment buildings' brick walls and the concrete parking lot, but it was a lone voice crying in the wilderness "Look at me! Spring is here!" There were a lot of trees leafing out though, and that surprised me a little. They've been warmer than us down there on the warm days, but almost as cold at night on the cold ones too.

I think by the end of the week, I'll likely have at least some brassicas and greens in the ground, and probably potatoes too, but I'm going to have to wait for drier soil to plant onions. I haven't even ordered onions because I cannot decide when to plant them. Normally I would have my onions ordered in December or early January. I need to get with it and order some, or I won't get them on time to plant them in any sort of a timely manner.

What's up with everyone else? Is anyone getting close to putting anything in the ground?


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