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Baby it’s Cold Outside

January morning out the back door

January morning out the back door

It’s finally starting to feel like winter.  We’ve had enough snow to cover the ground and temperatures are falling.  In Minnesota we are known for being the “frozen North”  but most of December our temperatures remained above freezing.   This is nice in theory.

The warmer temperatures did make getting out and about a little easier.  Navigating sidewalks wasn’t a problem as there was no build up of snow.  On street parking was available and none of the commercial spaces need to use their handicapped parking spots as the “logical” place to pile the snow shoveled off the lot.

On the other hand, there was no White Christmas.  The magic of the season, the lights the sounds, are all shifted when there is a crispness in the air and snow on the ground.  Instead of clear starry nights we had clouds and sleet.  Many people I spoke with were having a hard time finding the spirit of the season, and I blame that on the weather.

The snow cover protects our plants in the frigid cold that January often brings.  Because most of our precipitation has been rain, that snowy blanket isn’t as effective.  We can hope that we will continue to remain warmer this season, but there is a difference between climate and weather.

The climate is shifting.  The lines for gardening zones have moved quite notably in my lifetime.  But in any given year we can see any kind of weather.  I complain that the forecasts often compare our temperatures to the “average”.  Here that is meaningless.

When temperatures on any given day from the highest high to the lowest low range anywhere from 40-80 degrees what’s 5 or 10 degrees above or below “average”?   I suspect there are days when the “average” high or low is a temperature than doesn’t exist in the historical listing for highs and lows on those days.

This chart from KORD shows how broad our extremes can be and how "normal" doesn't look much like what actually happens.

This chart from KORD shows how broad our extremes can be and how “normal” doesn’t look much like what actually happens.

January often sees days below zero.  It is not uncommon to see weeks where temperatures never rise above zero.  We’ve had three-week stretches of unrelenting, bone chilling weather.  Finally we’ve dropped the temperature to a point where maybe we can remember what winter is really like.

I’m not the only one blogging about the weather this week.  If you want a warmer POV check out Monica’s Tangled Web.

Gardening

This is the "before".  I've talked about digging the strawberries out of the grass in previous blogs.

This is the “before”. I’ve talked about digging the strawberries out of the grass in previous blogs.

I skipped last week’s post.  I’d like to say it was because I was in the garden.  I was, some.  Memorial Day weekend for us is typically cool and rainy, and this was no exception.  It’s also a big gardening weekend.  The tomatoes go in, now that we’re “safely” past the frost.  We’ve got such a short season that delaying past Memorial Day means possibly no harvest.

This is the "after".  I've got a ring dug out.  Yes, those are squash - hopefully they'll keep the grass down once the strawberries are done for the season.

This is the “after”. I’ve got a ring dug out. Yes, those are squash – hopefully they’ll keep the grass down once the strawberries are done for the season.

This year Memorial Day was early and the season late.  I order my plants from a company in Oregon. (Hoping that they’ll be climate ready when they arrive, which isn’t true if I order from a company in New Mexico!)  I finally called them, seeing no sign of the plants “shipping date May 15th” I was wondering if they’d received my order!  Apparently they are having unseasonable weather along with the rest of the country.  The plants aren’t ready to be shipped.

I dug some of my containers out from under the grapevines.  You honestly couldn't even see them before (kind of like that mess in the background)

I dug some of my containers out from under the grapevines. You honestly couldn’t even see them before (kind of like that mess in the background)

Part of me appreciates the extra time.  I’ve made comments about recovering my gardens from years of neglect.  I won’t get it done this year, but I am making slow progress.  One of my Facebook friends commented that she wanted to see photos – so that’s what this post is really about.

Got a start on the wildflowers/butterfly garden.  The bergamot seems to be holding it's own, but the columbine needed some help.

Got a start on the wildflowers/butterfly garden. The bergamot seems to be holding it’s own, but the columbine needed some help.

Hopefully my plants will arrive soon and I’ll have tomatoes before September!

The peonies seem happy to have some breathing room!

The peonies seem happy to have some breathing room!

Onion and salad greens are starting to show and peas where the tomatoes ought to be.

Onion and salad greens are starting to show and peas where the tomatoes ought to be.

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