|Astolat Farm, February 2021|
My blog became a teenager this week. I started my first post with a picture of our house, February 21, 2008. There was no snow in the picture that day. This year, however, we were in a three-day snow storm when the month began, and it seems to have snowed every day since.
Some highlights of the month: the rest of my seeds arrived, I had a lovely Valentine's Day, I finished planning my spring vegetable and cutting gardens, and I participated in the Great Backyard Bird Count again. I'll start with the seeds. (Those of you who have been following this blog for the past 13 years can just scroll down to the bird and snow pictures as I write much the same every year. Sorry.)
PLANNING THE 2021 KITCHEN GARDEN
I followed my usual procedure for sorting seeds and planning the new season's kitchen garden. For those who don't know me, I have a fenced-in kitchen garden with picket fencing on two sides and pasture fencing on the remaining two sides. (I wish the picket fence went all the way around, but we cannot afford it.) The area is approximately 35 feet x 37 feet. The focal point of my kitchen garden is my potting shed, which has an acrylic glass roof and cold frames on the south side. In the kitchen garden we constructed four raised beds 8 feet x 4 feet each and several grow-boxes. A 'lasagna' bed along the picket fence is my cutting garden. I grow my vegetables and herbs in raised beds for several reasons: they provide better drainage, I can more easily control the growing medium, they heat up faster in spring (important in the short-growing season of the Pocono Mountains), and they are not effected by toxins from the walnut tree in the vicinity. Also, when the soil is shin level, weeding and harvesting is less hard on the back. My kitchen garden is located in an area of full sun.
|The Kitchen Garden and Potting Shed|
There are four planning steps.
1: I begin by separating the seed packets into flowers and vegetables. I then divide them into 'start indoors' and 'direct sow.' These directions
are on the seed packet. For example, larger seeds such as beans and
corn, do best if you sow them directly into the garden.
|I utilize the dining-room table to begin the sorting process. (Note the miniature rose and the unusual 'hedgehog' card that Duane gave me for Valentine's Day)|
Step 2: I plan to start seeds indoors so they are at the correct stage of development to move outside after the last frost. On average the last frost in the Poconos is May 23 (the Poconos has a frost-free growing season of around 123 days -- not very long, is it?) If the seed packet says 'Start seeds indoors 4-8 weeks prior to the last frost of spring' I count back on the calendar to April 7 as the date to start them indoors. I use index cards to separate the seed packets by date, arranging them in a wooden trug that I bought many years ago from Home Goods.
|I'll be starting my first seeds indoors on March 1.|
Step 3: I put the seed-starting and direct-sowing dates on a calendar dedicated to this purpose. I will use this calendar for making notes on germination, potting on, frosts, what worked and what didn't, etc.
|I'm almost ready to start sowing!|
|The diagram of my kitchen garden is more or less to scale. |
So now I am ready to sow; I'll be starting broccoli indoors on March 1st. How are you doing with your spring planning?
The Great Backyard Bird Count did not bring any unusual birds into my garden, but I really enjoyed lots of juncos, titmice, nuthatches, woodpeckers, sparrows, cardinals, and a pair of wrens that continue to provide us with endless entertainment.
|The hairy woodpecker. He has a longer beak than the downy woodpecker. Both visited for GBBC.|
|A white-breasted nuthatch|
|One of two Carolina wrens that visit the back porch every day|
Of course, the squirrels always spoil the fun by scaring away the birds. They look for ways to climb onto the bird feeder that hangs on the porch. One of them thought he could jump from the top of the jug nesting box there, but it was too far.
|The squirrel is eying the seeds in the bird feeder hanging nearby.|
I don't leave the house often when its cold and icy, but ventured into the garden yesterday to take a few pictures. I mentioned last time that there are usually some signs of spring by
now: the first snowdrop blooms, lots of hellebore buds, and the green
shoots of daffodils and of other spring bulbs. I can only trust that
Mother Nature is working her magic under the two feet, or so, of snow
that remains, and that when it finally melts away, all those glories
will be revealed. I have to reassure myself that the snow is providing
my plants with a protective blanket from the severe cold. I am trying
very hard not to complain because I am not experiencing anything as
devastating as that of our Texas friends. As I pray for them, I thank
God for my warm home, electricity, and abundant water whenever I turn on
|The red twig dogwood is a multi-stemmed shrub with outstanding coral-red branches.|
|A small hole in Froggy Pond allows the fish to get oxygen -- there is a heater there. Froggy is almost entirely buried under the snow|
|Froggy doesn't look too happy, does he?|
|I wonder which creature made the tracks under the walnut tree?|
The goats grew lovely, thick coats to keep them warm through this unexpectedly snowy month.
|I think the three goats are as tired of the snow as I am. |
|From left to right: Doodles (at the back), Bilbo, and Taz|
Today was special in two ways: the thaw began and I got my second COVID vaccination!
I am linking with Sarah in Dorset, England at Down by the Sea for a peep over her garden gate at her February garden. I'm sure she will have some blooms already-- giving me hope that mine wont be far behind.
Stay safe and well dear friends.
|My potting shed this month|
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