While meteorological spring is just a week away (March 1st), actual, real honest to goodness spring remains a distant dream. Minneapolis put parking restrictions in place today allowing parking only on the odd sides of streets. We have so much snow and the streets have gotten so narrow because of it (plowing to the curb doesn’t actually make it to the curb), that buses and fire trucks and ambulances can’t get down the streets with two-way traffic. And there is no thaw in sight. The long term forecast is colder than normal for the next two weeks with every night this week dipping back below zero (-18C) and highs during the day breaking 10F (-12C) only once or twice if we are lucky.
At least I have work to go to during the week and books at night and weekends. My poor retired next door neighbor who loves to spend his time grooming his perfect lawn or sitting on his patio in the sun or spending time at his lake cabin is clearly going stir crazy. He spent several hours outside yesterday going up and down the street shoveling out snow for sidewalk to street access in front of everyone’s houses and then walking down to the corner and clearing all the snow away from the fire hydrant. Bless his heart, this saved all of us the definitely not fun task of chipping the ice and snow out of the street access paths that was packed up from the plow after our latest snowstorm. I am glad his cabin fever translates to acts of kindness. Bookman gave him some homemade chocolate chip cookies earlier last week after we had snow. Now we are planning on gifting him with some hand pies come pi(e) day March 14th.With all the snow outside there is no gardening happening yet other than in my head and I can tell you it is a veritable jungle in there at the moment. Lush green, moderately warm, moderately humid, bees, birds, flowers, flowers, flowers, huge veggies, and me sitting in a chair in the midst of it all with a big ol’ grin on my face. Ahh. It’s really nice in there and such a shame I can’t invite you in a for a visit or snap a photo so I can at least show you. You’ll just have to take my word for it.
But for those of you in warmer areas where you might be able to plant veggies now or very soon, I’ve got something for you! How many of you think you can only grow vegetables in full sun? How many have shady yards and think you are just out of luck and can never grow your own veggies? Think again my friends! I discovered last fall that you can grow lettuce in dappled sun which keeps it from bolting so fast when the heat of summer comes. Now, I have found two different articles that discuss just how much sunlight various vegetables and herbs need to grow. Definitely if you want tomatoes and peppers full sun 6-8 hours is required. But lettuce, kale, spinach, cabbage, only need two hours of direct sun or a day of dappled sun. Beets, carrots, turnips, onions, etc can tolerate light shade with only 4-6 hours of sunlight. Pretty exciting, isn’t it? At least I think it is!
I’ve been hearing in the news lately about how monarch butterflies are in trouble. Common milkweed, a major food source, is not so common anymore. It used to be found everywhere in meadows, on the edges of farm fields and roadsides. But human development is destroying the “empty” fields and farming practices and the use of pesticides are killing the plants near farms and roadsides. Homeowners are being encouraged to plant milkweed in their gardens. If you do this though, do not buy your plants from big box stores like Home Depot or Lowe’s. A recent study revealed that plants from these stores, including ones sold as “bee friendly” contain pesticides that poison bees. My guess is the pesticides on these plants would kill butterflies too.
The news about milkweed only brings closer to home the importance of backyard biodiversity. Plants matter and what you plant matters even more. Think about wear the species of plant you are going to plant comes from and if it is not native to your country, consider planting something else. “Alien” ornamentals support 29 times fewer animals than native ornamentals do.
Earlier this year I had a bit of despair over my little garden not being enough to make a difference. All by itself it doesn’t do enough but it does make a difference. I have a feeling I am not the only one in the Twin Cities metro area who will be making sure she has a nice patch of milkweed in her garden. All of us together will make a difference. We all have it in our power to be part of the solution to species extinction and climate change.
Goodness, where did that soap box come from? I’ll get down now and wind up with an update on my red wiggler worms. What happy worms they are! They got their last weekly feeding yesterday and I disturbed quite a few of them when I was burying the last bit of food in the bin for them. The bin still smells great and I even had tiny little mushrooms growing on the newspaper for about two weeks, surely a good sign since mushrooms help make good compost too. The wigglers will get no new food for fours weeks so they concentrate on what’s already in the bin. Then will come the challenge of convincing them to move to new bedding. We’ll see how I am at worm wrangling.
Oh, and probably next weekend Bookman and I are going to try and ferment our own sauerkraut. Anyone out there ever done this before and have any tips? The cabbage this time will come from the grocery store, but if we have success, come fall, the cabbage will come from our own garden.