Somebody had better tell those crocus on my front yard that they’re early. Way too early for those flower buds to survive. The last few days really has them thinking its spring out there. If I get some flowers, I’ll post them on my website for you all to drool over but then you can weep along with me when the next freeze takes them right out. Oh well, they’ll go out in glory at any rate.
(The bulbs won’t be killed but the flowers will perish in a regular February day)
And somebody had better tell that forsythia bush that it isn’t spring. I see the buds are looking a little bigger than last week. I think I’ll take a few cuttings off it this week and force them in the house; that’s the only way I’m going to see flowers on this shrub this spring once frost gets to those swollen buds.
This is all by way of saying that warm weather is playing havoc with the early bushes and bulbs.
The thawing ground and warm rains are sending the message that it is spring and when winter inevitably rolls back in, those plants are in for a rude awakening.
Is there anything you can do?
If your soil is frozen, you can mulch heavily right now to try to hold the cold into the soil. Holding the cold will delay the plant from springing into life and will stop flower formation for sure. If the ground is thawed, like mine is next to the house foundation, there’s not much you can do.
If you mulch now, you’ll keep the soil warm and the bulbs and plants will keep growing. And they’ll be met next week with minus zero temperatures as they clear the mulch on their way to plant heaven.
Plants in the thawed soil are pretty much at the mercy of the weather. I’m hoping for a January-February-March and April thaw.
Cut Your Forsythia Branches
Those forsythia branches are going to be cut to around 18-inches long, I’ll peel the bark from the end of the branch and hit that end a few times with a hammer to loosen up the bark.
I’ll put the cuttings will be put into a vase of water on a sunny windowsill and change the vase-water every two days. If I had some cut-flower food around, I’d put that into the water as well.
In a few days or a week depending on how far along the shrub is, you’ll see the buds swell and then followed shortly by big, fat yellow blossoms. After the blossoms are done, keep changing the water and allow the green leaves to develop.
Watch the vase as these sticks may very well begin to grow roots. If this happens, congratulations you have a new shrub. You can easily force branches of any spring blooming shrub such as forsythia, pussy willow, lilac or even crab apple tree (although the lilac and trees likely won’t root).
Getting Ready To Sow Annual Flowers
I started filling the seedling flats this past weekend and getting ready to seed. Man, that peat mix made a mess. It is so dry and it won’t wet very well.
I’m using Pro-Mix and I thought it had a wetting agent in it to assist the wetting process, but apparently not. The flats have been sitting in water for 18 hours now and they’re not absorbing it at all. As you might imagine, I’m not impressed. Never stand between a gardener and his seed starting ventures. I did try wetting the mix inside the bag itself but the darn water runs out the bottom of the bag. I think I’ve got it fixed though. The bag is currently sitting in an old aquarium and about to be soaked. I’ll flood the darn thing! I pass this along so you’ll be aware of a similar situation if you’re using a soilless mix. Do wet it well before you want to use it.
Several other seed orders went out this past week. I sucked it up and sent away for some fragrant sweet pea seeds. Why don’t we have a great source of this plant in North America? I also ordered some of some red morning glory and white moonflower seeds. The blue morning glory is always so late to flower, I thought I’d go with red this year. Mind you, this means I have to build some trellis on my house but I guess if that’s the price I’ll have to pay to get fragrant vines (sweet pea and night-blooming moonflower) growing, it will be a welcome price to be sure. Luckily, the kitchen is on the west side and this amount of sunlight will support these fragrant vines so I can have a perfumed kitchen area when the windows are open. It looks like I have to have a trellis-building bee as I also want to grow climbing roses, and wisteria to add to the garden perfume. Those walls could become crowded.
The deer continue to visit in spite of me chasing them away every time I see them, so the garden designs are shrinking closer and closer to the relative protection of the house.
The further away from the house, the easier it will be for those garden predators to munch on my veggies. It is looking like the vegetable garden is now going to be raised beds very close to the back door. This gives me the advantage of being able to defend it easier with an electronic water-scarecrow as well as not having to walk very far to work and harvest the beds. I also designed a deer repellent garden trial for this summer to test all the currently available sprays. I’ll let you know next fall how that works out.
With the warmest winter on modern record leading the way, garden planning happily follows. Now if I can only get that soil mix to wet, I’ll be a happy gardener by this time next week.