A genuine “Fool’s Spring.” It was 12 degrees Celsius in full sun this weekend. Yes, the lows were 1C, and there was frost, but I got a sunburn in February and that’s what counts!
We like to use the term “Fool’s Spring” here on the West Coast because we often get a few of them. Warm temperatures at least once or twice in the winter is never surprising. What is always surprising is when a late freeze or snow event occurs. In recent memories we have had snow cover in the first week of March.
However, as I explained to some fellow growers this weekend: I like to play “West Coast Roulette,” where I garden and act like it is Spring in hopes that it will be. In some cases, I get a massive head-start; at other times, I start the whole thing over again in mid march. I’m a gambling man!
There is lots to get you caught up on. I’ve got plants started in my cold frame, in my greenhouse and there are even some trying to grow in the beds. I’m on full-slug-patrol duty already, and I’m already pulling up the weeds that also think it is spring. (See what’s growing at the bottom).
Perhaps the biggest news for this update is the launch of my Youtube Channel “Gardening with Bugs.” There, I hope to do what is being done here, but to reach a different audience. It will also supplement these posts as you’ll get to see video of what I’m talking about and this site will continue to offer more in-depth information. So, if you’re the type to hit-up Youtube for gardening information, please look it up and subscribe. My channel can be found here.
In the wonderful sun this weekend, I spent a considerable amount of time breaking down pallets to make cheap benches for my little cold frame. It was tedious work and the end product looks….well exactly like it would, being built out of crap wood. However, with a tetanus booster, we should be safe to work in there, and it’ll make things easier. One reason for jumping to this now was because slugs had eaten some newly sprouted spinach while in the greenhouse. I was not impressed.
Which gets me back to slugs. Earlier this year Oregon State University published their findings on economical slug protection. The number one method for attracting, they found, was simple bread dough. (Flour, yeast and water). So I whipped up some batches of that and some beer traps to compare. What I found was the beer and bread dough were both good, but I had to liquify the dough in order for it to drown the slugs. I’ll have to look into this further, but at least it is cheeper than beer!
I’ve remembered the pains of direct sowing, while I watched birds eat all my hand-broadcast poppy seeds. I will be more diligent this year and we’ve already been debating covering the beds again with netting. I dislike how much work it is to remove and replace netting and I find I will skip simple tasks like weeding because of it. So, instead we may do wire mesh in pieces that are easy to move aside.
In the forecast, for the foreseeable future at least, we look to have highs around 8 and lows around 3. This means that everything I’ve started in plugs will likely remain in plugs for some time. Yes, the cold frame hits 20C in the sun, but the low light and low over night temperatures will subdue the plants. It is also the case of most bugs. However, leaf hoppers have been in full force, coming up from their cover in the heat of the afternoon. So we really are not far off spring as far as the pest control is concerned.
So, if you have created a new bed, added new soil or are concerned about any particular soil pests, remember to get Stratiolaelaps scimitus in now. (Buy from Amazon as “Grub Grenade” here). If you have or are concerned about aphids this time of year, add the Brown Lacewing Micromus variegatus. For everything else, it’s best to wait for now. And don’t worry. I’ll remind you.
See you soon.
As promised, here is what’s growing.
In the photo gallery above you can see much of what has been started. The top grow and bottom right is of green-house started plants. All peppers have been started and flowers consisting of asters, strawflowers alyssum and Lobelia are getting the start at over 20C. Bottom right is also in the greenhouse and it is basils, and celery. The bottom left and middle bottom show how I’ve been seeding in the cold frame. I have started sweet peas and shelling peas in the larger cells, but the plugs are all a mix of cool-season veg. There is no rhyme or reason; I’m trying them all to see what I can establish early. They consist of:
- Head lettuce
- “Cut and come again” lettuce
- winter spinach
- normal spinach
- various mustards
I’ve decided to divide my beds into long-season and short-season plants. Long season are plants like tomatoes, garlic, and celery. But the short-season will be what I call “successive gardens.” These will be gardens where I plant the veg and greens listed above with the idea that I will continue to harvest and plant throughout the season. I hope this keeps me more organized.
I have also started kales and chard to see if I can get those earlier.