Friday, February 3, 2012

My First Hit of Spring!

 Yes, the first day of February has come & I went on my 'crocus hunt' - knowing that there would be at least 1 yellow crocus in bloom.

I found it!! Ahhh, makes me feel like spring truly is here just to see this yellow jewel.
 Another hit of yellow I found in a patch of primroses. These are such hardy little plants & they will often bloom right through the winter.

I have reds & purples scattered around & really should invest a few more pennies into these. They multiply easily.
My rhubarb is starting to sprout now too. I will probably give it another good helping of compost before covering it up with a 5 gallon bucket to encourage the stalks to grow tall & much earlier.

I did that with a different patch last spring & was able to get 3 harvests off the plants.

Yesterday was such a nice sunny & warm day that I thought it would be a good idea to get a head start on some of my 'spring cleaning' chores outside.

As you can see - we don't have snow to worry about. Actually, we aren't even getting very much in the way of frosts right now (I know that will probably change...).

I like to cut out all the old/dead raspberry canes in February. In this picture, they are the gray canes. They were productive last year but are now dead. They sometimes just snap off, but I get in there with the pruners & also cut out any wimpy stalks or stalks that have grown on a leaning angle. You want to keep the plant healthy & only promote the strongest canes to grow & produce fruit.

While I busy doing that, I also tend to the weeds. Raspberries are what I call 'jealous' plants - they don't like to have their roots crowded, nor do they like to share their root space with other plants.

I pull out all the weeds & clear quite a bit around the row. I'll leave these (roots up) for mulching. Raspberries like that too.

Now is a good time to add some compost to the canes. The stuff I have - I removed it from the compost tumbler only a few months ago - is still not fully decomposed, so adding it now will allow for nutrients to be delivered at a different rate as it decomposes more.

What a great day to be playing with this lovely sweet smelling stuff!! (well, the juices as the bottom weren't so sweet, but that's all part of getting dirty!)

I've now put the compost around each plant.

 I would have preferred to put more leaves or even grass clippings around the plants, but all I have on hand for now are the left-over Christmas cedar bough decorations. They will keep some of the heavy rains off & hopefully deter the birds from digging around too much.

That's one of the difficulties of applying mulch - the birds will dig through it looking for bugs & they will push it all off the bed or from around some of the 'tender' plants you are trying to protect! ~sigh~

 My other raspberry patch on the 'far side' of the property needed some TLC too. This patch is a mess - the black currant bush is growing too close & it's too large. It's not really productive, but I love it so much I don't know what to do with it!

Do I hack it back each year or let it do it's thing & maybe in another few years, it will give me more than just a handful of berries. I need to plant more of them...

 So, this patch is now cleaned up & ready for compost, but I've run out & will have to wait a few more weeks before I can get either some manure, or whip up a quick batch with the composter.

Since it was such a nice day & I was having so much fun, I thought I'd take a look at the raised beds.

I know it's too soon to think about planting, but I thought the leaves would have been more decomposed than this by now.

Do worm hibernate??

February 2nd - soil temperature is 5 degrees!!!
Well, since the soil temperature is considerably warmer than it was last year (March 1st, 2011 - soil temp was only 1 degree) - I thought I should try some cool weather crops: peas & lettuces.

But first, rig up the plastic cover - which needs to be rebuilt, rethought & redesigned - it will last maybe this season, depends on the severity of the spring storms. But at least one bed should be enough for early veggies!!

I amended the soil with compost, the left-over soil from all the pots I cleaned out last fall & some coir. The plastic should help warm things up & keep the heavy rains out. I managed to find some compost to throw in under all this & in a week or 2, I'll stab some peas in the ground & see what happens.

The lettuce I'll start indoors & transplant out when they are large enough. I just wish those seeds would arrive in the mail!!!

Today was another glorious spring day & the crocus have now opened. I kept straining my ears to catch the sounds of either bees or hummingbirds, but I know I'm a few weeks early in hoping for their return. They need more things to bloom. I'm sure I'll be seeing dandelions shortly too!!

Looks like tomorrow is going to be another fabulous day too! Perfect for the first Seedy Saturday event here on the island. I'm blasting out to Qualicum Beach & wonder what sort of treats await me there!! (my wish list includes: crab apple trees, hazelnut shrubs, pear trees, maybe a couple of rhododendrons - scented ones would make my spring!) But maybe I should plant the white mulberry tree I bought there last year before getting any more things in pots!!! I'll have to let you know what I find...


Ruth Trowbridge said...

Lovely pictures - makes me long for spring! and excellent tutorial on raspberries do you mind if I post this on my blog? Peace

Michelle's Green Thumb said...

Sure thing Ruth! Love sharing information & finding out what works & what can be improved upon!