Sunday, March 11, 2007
Yippee, the first day of daylight saving time* and the start of our gardening season. Yes, we started "gardening" today - by moving plants - even though there’s still snow on the ground.
Temperatures are now above freezing and all the white stuff is beginning to melt. (But there was still enough snow on the ground to take the dogs on their morning and afternoon walks with snowshoes on - it would have been very hard going without them.)
What prompted us to action was the weather forecast for Tuesday: we're expecting a high of 14ºC (57º for you Fahrenheit folks), with Wednesday bit cooler, but still in the double digits. Thanks to the greenhouse effect, 14ºC means it will easily get well above 20º (68ºF) in our hoop house (plastic-covered greenhouse).
After looking the forecast, we knew today was the day to move the dormant plants out of the greenhouse where they’ve been all winter. We don’t heat the greenhouse, and the plants freeze, but they’re protected from the worst of the cold and, especially, ice storms or rain in mid-January, which can be fatal.
Aside from a few hardy things I have in containers and my neighbor’s containerized boxwoods, the plants that winter in the hoop house are mostly my husband’s rock garden plants. Each year, he starts a number of species from seed and grows them on in pots until they’re big enough to go into his rock garden to replace plants that died over winter, are underperforming or that he doesn't like anymore (usually because they’ve grown too big and unwieldy).
As it begins to warm up in March, we try to keep the dormant plants from getting too much of a head start. We don’t want them to start to grow and flower too soon: they’re supposed to do that in the garden.
So after a couple of hours of hauling and moving this afternoon, the dormant plants are in the barn where they will be cooler, but still protected from seriously bad weather. During the daytime we can open the barn doors to give them light and air.
We also took the large rosemary plants that we grow in containers back to the hoop house. They were in there until Christmas, but because they’re Zone 7 plants and the hoop house gets too cold on bitter nights, they had to spend the rest of the winter under lights in the basement.
As we like to say at this time of year: “The green fuse has been lit.” Soon we’ll be racing to keep up with all that needs to be done.
By the way, the "green fuse" metaphor is from a poem by Dylan Thomas entitled The force that through the green fuse drives the flower.
*Extended daylight saving time: one of the few decisions by the US Congress supported by the majority of Canadians, or at least those who are gardeners.
PS: I don't believe for a moment that daylight saving time actually saves energy (the reason it has been started earlier), but extra evening light is wonderful for those of us who aren't morning people.