Thoughts on the Early Season


One of my favorite comments people make about the weather (besides using “weather” as a term only indicating the severe stuff), is that, in terms of the weather, it’s been “a strange year.”

I tend to think that, too, until I go back and read my notes on past seasons (kind of like how every year I panic about how long it’s taking my peas to emerge until I look back and realize it always takes that long).  However, this year turns out to indeed be a strange year.

Looking over my trusty garden journals for the past few seasons, patterns start to take shape.  Since I am one to take seed packs at their word when they say, “plant as soon as the ground can be worked,” I can look back over the past few years and see just when that was possible.

This year, as faithful readers may know, I started planting out on March 16th–sugar snap peas and spinach are my earliest crops.  Last year, that early planting date was March 25th for spinach and the 26th for peas.

My note on March 27, 2008 reads, “Yesterday I planted about 90 row feet of sugar snap peas along the trellis constructed last year.  The day before I planted spinach along the west side of the garden.”

On April 7 and again on the 10th, I noted the “unusually” cold weather following the early planting window–the note on the 10th reads, “Hardly anything is coming up yet with the chilly weather.  I am trying to clean and plant and hope!”  It seemed to break by the 14th, when I commented, “Finally some signs of life–black-seeded lettuce, a few radishes, some spinach and cress are up.”

In 2007, I started planting peas on March 26, though I started constructing the aforementioned pea trellis on the 24th, which would indicate I could have planted at that time (you can’t drive posts into frozen ground).  On April 9th I noted, “it has been in the teens and twenties for the past week.”

In 2006, I started planting peas on March 29th, and put trellis up on the 27th–indicating I could have planted two days earlier than I did (at least).  I didn’t record a cold snap that year–just heavy rain and small hail on April 6th, and “terribly windy, dry, and warm for the past two days” on the 11th.

Looking at the past few years altogether, I can say that this season the early planting window came about a week earlier than usual.  I can also breathe a sigh of relief (not that I was really sweating it–yet) about how cold it has been getting the past few nights (and tonight’s low is predicted at 18 degrees last I checked).

The notes on the 2007 season tell me that even having planted a number of crops as early as I did, and even though it has been getting really cold at night, everything should still be just fine.

In the end, with the cold weather over the past week, I’ll be just about where I was for the past few years in terms of the planting schedule when the cold weather breaks–that is, feeling like I’m way behind when I’m pretty much right on time.

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