Sunday, February 2, 2014

Vegetables and Groundhogs

Weather seems to be capturing my attention lately, more so than usual, I think. First, I am truly sympathetic with my sisters, brother, nieces, nephews, cousins, and dear friends who live in Minnesota and have been braving wind-chills of  -54 degrees. They're rejoicing in heat waves when the daytime temperature is about 25. So I really am sympathetic, yet a bit smug. After all, who was the smart one to move to the Pacific Northwest where we rarely get such temperatures.

And weather has been part of the build up to the Super Bowl, with frigid temperatures and snow in New Jersey a possibility just a week ago. They escaped the snow and the very coldest temperatures.

In Seattle/Tacoma, we have had a relatively dry January, although it has been foggy and cloudy. We've had to scrape and defrost windshields a couple of times, but temperatures have been fairly normal for us, ranging from the mid-30s to the mid-40s. Typical winter, though a bit dry.

But today the sun came out! And it was glorious. Still chilly at 45 degrees, but with a brilliant blue sky. And so, my mind turned to planting flowers and vegetables this Spring. For flowers, I have a beautiful blue hydrangea and I'm thinking of planting a couple more. I love the flowers and the foliage and they don't require care beyond keeping weeds out and deadheading blooms. I have a large hostos that slugs love to munch on, leaving the large leaves very lacy looking; I think I need to de-slug the plant this year. I want to plant some dahlias, but the tremendous variety leaves me indecisive until it's too late. This year, I'll just make some decisions and go with it. As usual, I look forward to the blooming of daffodils, jonquils, and bluebells. We seem to have an active squirrel population which digs up bulbs and deposits them elsewhere in our yard. I never know where these flowers will bloom. I've dug up the bulbs after they're done and tried to organize them, but the same disarray happens every year.

We have strawberry, blueberry, and raspberry plants and will probably add to that collection. We love berries and it's wonderful to go outside and pick them and have them for breakfast.

As for vegetables, herbs and tomatoes are always at the top of my list. I'm also thinking of green beans, wax beans, carrots, onions, and who knows what else. Maybe Brussels sprouts. Years ago, I planted Brussels sprouts from seeds. I'd never seen them grow before, and thought they might grow in bunches like grapes, but on a single stalk like broccoli. After awhile, these spiky single stems grew to about 3 - 4 feet tall, and then they all fell over. I thought that was the last of those plants. Then I noticed little bumps along the stalks, so propped up the stalks and the bumps turned into Brussels sprouts. I was amazed! They were ready just in time for Thanksgiving and were the best thing ever. Now that I know what to expect, maybe I'll try growing them again.

While I was daydreaming and starting to create lists, I heard that Punxsutawney Phil was ceremoniously dragged out of his burrow and saw his shadow. Six more weeks of winter.

Can I wait that long to dig in the dirt and plant stuff or will I move on to other projects? Maybe this is the year that I buy all my produce from farmers' markets and farm stands, supporting the local agricultural community. What a good idea!

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