What's up with this weather? I've got crocus and daffodil bulbs poking up out of the dirt, and any minute now I expect to see forsythias blooming. I feel like I should be planting radishes: maybe I could get a full crop before our next snowfall. Plus, I wanted to do some free ice skating at Side Cut Metropark this year. Denied.
Comments ... #
I noticed last week that some of our crocuses were sprouting in the flower bed along the south foundation of our house. Another early season plant is popping up in our backyard too, but I don't know the name of it. It looks like clumps of grass, but it produces little white flowers.
I've got a clump of those, too, planted by a former resident 30 years ago. I haven't been able to decide if it's an Itheion or Ornithogalum. JR, do you ever look at the Old House Gardens bulb business up in Ann Arbor? Amazing historical resource.
When walking home recently I saw dandelions. Should have taken a pic because it was hard to believe.
Many of our perennial plants will suffer if we do not have a cold snap that last some time. The thawing and freezing of the ground is the enemy to these plants.
This weather is great for us but not so for our plants.
Heaving, from repititve freeze/thaw cycles shouldn't bother an established perennial plant. But heaving can absolutely push a late fall planted plant right out of the ground, exposing the roots to freesing temps. Roots are protected from cold temperatures by soil. They cant withstand winter air temperatures and drying out.
Yet to be determined, as we still have 7 weeks left of potential winter cold, is fruit tree production. Fruit trees need a certain number of hours of both endo-dormancy and ecto-dormancy to produce fruit. I don't believe that this winter has met those requirements. Tulips and other spring bulbs have varying requirements of chilling. We have probably met the chilling requirements for those.
We all know that early spring budding of plants, followed by a hard freeze can cause a lot of damage. The plant has to draw on stored resources to produce a second flush of leaves to replace those lost. A tree/shrub that went into winter in an unhealthy condition may not survive because it wont have sufficient stored resources in the roots.
Some trees will loose the phloem and xylem tissue because the sap had risen and then froze causing bark split, hence no way for the tree to move photosynthetic food from the leaves down to the roots and move nutrients and water up to the leaves or buds. It can take up to a year before all damage from a late hard freeze becomes evident.
The ODA and the OSU Turf program have daily weather data available, for both air and soil temperature monitoring, for the entire state. This weekend I'm going to download that data and do some analysis of chilling hours to see what, if anything, I can learn. The thing all gardeners want to wish for is no prolonged warm up that breaks dormancy followed by a hard freeze. I'll pass on losing the cherry crop or the apple crop for a season, but sure don't want to lose the trees.
We have a ways to go yet before anything is certain.
Apple trees need 1000 hours of temperatures near 45 degrees to break dormancy, flower and set fruit. That's optimal. Temps between 35 and 55 degrees will also provide some chilling. Its gonna be close.
I only hope real winter doesn't decide to show up around April.
Even though our winter has not shown up in full force, winter certainly has in Europe:
Snow Falls In Rome For The First Time In 26 YEARS as -36c temperatures across eastern Europe send death toll to 150 (UK Daily Mail)
The pictures of the Colusseum covered in snow are worth the click!
I saw a chipmunk scurrying around our backyard this morning. But this critter is known to pop-up from its hibernation during mild stretches in the winter. It will, however, go back into hiding when the weather turns wintry again. Chipmunks reside underground, but they don't sleep through the entire winter, so they eat from their cache that's stored in another underground "room."
A friend on another bbs that I frequent is a horse owner. She said that her horses didn't get nearly as heavy a winter coat as usual and that they are already shedding heavily. Spring is on the way!!
Planting Zone Map On Seed Packets Updated To Reflect Warmer Century
Actually the data used by the USDA as the basis for the revised map covered a 30 year time span. The new map is pretty cool. It has an interactive feature that allows you to practically search your neighborhood. Holland, where I live is zone 6a, -5 to -10 . It looks like Ottawa Hills might be zone 6b 0 to -5. Its been quite nice adding new plants to the annual aquisition list, stuff I didnt want to risk losing before. Although I've been zone pushing for a while it was always with the anxiety that I'd likely lose them. Mostly hydrangeas and a couple of dwarf conifers, small to medim sized plants that I could winter protect.