Monday, March 31, 2014

Five Garden Things to Do When the Weather Won't Cooperate

See that?  That's from a week ago, when apparently we were supposed to get both spring-like weather and snow within 24- and sometimes 12-hour periods.  Welcome to Ohio.

This winter has been particularly stressful for we who garden, mostly because it won't really quit.  Every day, we look at the weather to see what garden task we can do -- nice days are usually corrupted by that pesky thing called "paying work," so the snowy days are even more frustrating.

Nonetheless, I've managed to get some gardening done, and I have a good start on lots of tasks.  So here's five things you can do while you wait out the indeterminate weather.
  1. Start some seeds.  I started pepper seeds in early February and basil and tomatoes shortly thereafter. My plants are pretty big by now, which means I'll be transferring the peppers to their final large container homes in the sunroom very shortly, awaiting the weather warming up in May or June for the move of the containers outside.
  2. Focus on cool-weather crops.  Potatoes, peas, carrots, and greens are all cold hardy, which means you can plant them with very minimal protection.  I have a makeshift cold frame that will be getting the first carrots later today, and I have two containers of potatoes in the sunroom along with the first of the peas and some greens.
  3. Work the soil.  If you've had a snowy winter, your soil is probably pretty easy to work right now.  We have easily broadforked and amended with peat moss a good deal of our garden plot, awaiting spring planting. Mr. FC&G has also cut sod to broaden the main garden, and he reports it is an easier job than it would be later in the year.  Just don't work boggy soil, or you will have a hard, clay-y mess later!
  4. Clean your tools.  Every year, I think I'm going to spend the winter washing tools and pots and sharpening hoe and trimmer blades, and every year I don't.  Take advantage of a warm-ish day to sit outside and do this task, even if your ground is too cold or wet to work.
  5. Add to compost.  If you can't do anything else for your garden during cold spells, you at least feed your compost pile.  Wood ash from fireplaces and egg shells from baking are two compost additions that you can find when undertaking activities that take the chill off the house. 
Have you started planting yet?  Or are you waiting out the cold?
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