Monthly Archives: February 2014

Peas

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You can hardly ever plant peas too early in North Carolina (she said, thereby causing a crippling multi-state ice storm) so today I went out, finished dumping garden mix on the sunniest vegetable bed, and planted out peas.

I usually use tomato cages as trellises–I have some beautiful enameled red ones that are just lovely and also absolutely useless for tomatoes, which knock them down and tear them apart. (Live and learn…) They’re okay for mobile pea towers, though. I am also experimenting with some eight-foot poles this year, to see if the peas like those better.

My go-to cultivar here in North Carolina is “Wando” which is a solid, if undistinguished, performer that can take a good amount of heat. I tried “Lincoln” last year and it was so-so, but it was such a demented year for weather that I’m giving it another run, although it’s only getting half the space of Wando. Finally, there’s this year’s experiment–“Blue Podded Blauwschokkers,” which gets two tomato cages. Kevin is a fan of snow peas–we’ll see how MUCH of a fan.

This year’s big engineering trick is going to be with beans–I had superb luck growing them on an archway, much better than on poles, so I’ve got three new archways over the walk alongside the house. I am hoping this leads to a sort of green-tunnel effect. (And if it doesn’t, I’ll put in tomatoes there next year. The tomato I ran up the arch did pretty well, even with our bizarre weather.)

Planting peas has thrown some internal switch in me, thankfully–from “Oh god, we’ll never get to spring!” to “Oh crap, there’s way too much to be done before spring!” I need to go prepare the beet bed tomorrow…

Frogs and Sprouts

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The surface of the frog pond was rippling, little expanding circles, and at first I thought it was raining.

When I looked a little closer, I realized it was dozens of Upland Chorus Frogs. They’re sitting still, some of them engaged in amplexus, but their throat sacs are pulsing and every time they expand, another little ripple goes out.

The noise is deafening. We have opened up the house because it’s seventy degrees out, and in every room, you hear frog song coming through the windows.

The seeds I start indoors have SPROUTED! (Well, some of them.) The tomatillos have grown little sprouts and come up and are sproutlike and OH MY GOD YOU GUYS I DID IT! (I have not been this excited since the time I germinated corn on a wet paper towel in grade school.)

Sadly, the other seeds are not doing so well. My peat pots have molded rather badly, and the seeds with them. (I don’t know why the tomatillos are fine.) I went on-line and found a lot of contempt for peat for just that reason, so I’m going to chuck those and start over with something less prone to molding. Lost a week on the fish peppers, but meh, learning experience.

Snow

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The cedars aren’t gonna come out of this one well. One was already bent over from the last time we got a heavy snow, some years ago, and now two more have joined it. Instant weeping cedar! Just add snow!

Lots of ice. Lots of snow. Everything’s okay so far, beyond the cosmetic damage on the cedars…and two young pines…but it’s one of those where there is a potential to go really bad and you can’t do anything to prevent it from happening, so you go about your day and keep looking out the window to see if any of the trees are looking…scary.

There are a kajillion birds on the feeder. They vanish the instant it turns to freezing rain (or this morning’s delightful freezing mist!) and return when it goes back to snow. Birds are remarkably intelligent about things that matter to birds.

Lotta sparrows, lotta cardinals, lotta juncos. Yesterday was wall-to-wall doves, more than I’ve ever seen in the garden at one time–I counted fourteen–but they’re gone today. Very few chickadees. I suspect ice storms are hardest on the teeny tiny birds. Thrush-Bob is demanding frequent mealworm delivery and expects his water thawed on demand.

We were on the road for about twenty minutes yesterday, just as things started, getting gas for the generator. It was bad. I nearly ditched the car, even with ten years of Minnesota winter under my belt, because there is no amount of skill that can compensate for the guy in front of you stopping way too fast. I breathed on the brakes, slid, steered some direction that didn’t kill us, so it must have been correct. There was a conveniently placed driveway, and we stopped before sliding into the drainage ditch. (Kevin commended my reflexes, which is nice. Apparently “Guided Graceful Slide” is still on the active skill list.)

So we’re all still alive. Glad I work at home. (Despite that, I have the urge to scream “SNOW DAY!” and spend the day in pajamas, but y’know.)