Sunday, April 28, 2013

winter to summer in sixty seconds

Our street- April 23rd 

 The picture above is from Tuesday morning.   Fresh snow, broken tree branches, another day of extended winter.  That was April 23rd and we had 4 or 5 fresh inches of heavy, wet slushy snow blanketing the ground. I, along with most of the population of Minnesota was ready to scream.

This has been a long, painful winter.  Not super cold, just super long.  The Arctic Oscillation decided to go negative at just the wrong time and the cold got stuck over us.  The days were getting longer- the light lasts until after eight o'clock now, but outside- snow, grey skies, bare trees, and brown grass when you could see it at all.

That's part of the reason I've been absent here for the last few weeks.  If you can't say something nice- don't say anything at all is the conventional wisdom of the Midwest.  And I didn't have anything nice to say about gardening or the weather or the state of the world.

That changed this weekend.  Suddenly something shifted and the weather turned to mostly sunny and pushing 80 degrees.  The change was so sudden as to catch me and lots of others off guard.  Friday I was wearing jeans to work, and on the way home felt  uncomfortably hot- something that hasn't happened in seven months or so- and went looking for a pair of shorts in the closet- and couldn't remember where they were.  Why would I?  I was shoveling snow off our walk three days before.

So Tuesday I shoveled snow.  Today (Sunday), I got the pool out for the kids and set up the sprinkler for them to play in.

Saturday we had the first work day for the community garden I helped to start.  It was a gorgeous day, the work was exhausting but it was exhilarating seeing almost 100 people out to work the soil and build up a new part of the garden. 

Merriam Station Community Garden work day - April 27th
I have more projects to work on than I know what to do with right now.  I'm raising some plants for the community garden plant sale fundraiser* under a grow light in the basement and in the cold frame I banged together this 'spring' while suffering from spring fever.

And was it ever frustrating to have a new cold frame in the garden and see it covered with a fresh coating of snow every day.  I was afraid to move the plants I had started in the window out to the cold frame, thinking (probably rightly) that they'd freeze to death overnight, since there was almost no solar gain, what with the snow on the glass and cloudy skies.

And how quickly that changes.  I left the glass on the cold frame Saturday morning when I went to the community garden to run the work day, and came back to find that it was just under 100 degrees in there!  Some leaves had  the telltale tan spots of burning,  but most were fine.  I'll be more careful not to leave the cover on during a hot day in the future.

Tonight I was out working on another project- planting some bare root trees I ordered, and which arrived 3 weeks ago.  Normally early April would have been a good time to plant- but this year, they ended up in the garage with shredded paper and peat moss over  the roots.  I went into the garage this afternoon and saw that the buds on the peach tree were swelling and almost ready to open.  Time to plant!   And soon!

So after the kids were in bed, I put the trees in the back of the car and drove to the rental place, and planted a Garnet Beauty peach, Wolf River apple, and a Liberty apple in the back yard.  We have good tenants, so I think they'll take good care of them.  We'll hopefully get some peaches and apples down the road too.

The sun was setting as I planted them, and a gentle, cool breeze blew up, moving a few wispy clouds in the sky.  A few birds were still singing, and I looked up to see the last of the sunset in far horizon.  I had to stop and appreciate just what a quiet and beautiful evening it was.   I had been cursing the fact that I lived in Minnesota a few days before, and now I was in love with it again.

the new cold frame with plants.  The glazing is an old window I found in the attic.

* Shameless plant sale solicitation---  If you are in the Twin Cities, and more particularly, in great city of St. Paul, please come purchase some plants at the community garden fundraiser next Saturday.  You can say hi to me, and buy some of the little green things I raised in the cold frame.  The sale will be at the Merriam Park Rec Center at 2000 St. Anthony Ave. in St. Paul on Saturday May 4th, from 9 AM to 3 PM.
From my stock, we'll have heirloom tomato seedlings, hot peppers, long beans, some peas and mini-seedlings of kale, kohlrabi, bok choi and more.  Others have grown other more interesting stuff.  Fresh home-made baked goods and hot coffee available too!

See you there!


  1. Oh no! I saw it too late. Bummer, I would have loved to be there and buy some plants for my garden... :-(


    1. Thanks Ahlem! There's always next year.

      BTW- The GAI is doing a plant sale this weekend at the elementary school. That may be the one to go to.