Cherry blossoms, March 20th.
Undeterred by the chilly winds, grey skies and constant drizzle, the fruit trees and vegetable gardens are sprouting into spring. In the farm orchard, the Santa Rosa plum is in full glory - a cloud of white blossoms! - although its companion, tag long gone, shows only a slight bud break. This is the general routine with our plums, showing that we did a poor job of selecting appropriate cultivars for pollination. Not only does the Santa Rosa bloom too early for its pollinator, but it also tends to spring into flower at the first warm spell, leaving the blossoms open in the chilly, wet March weather without a pollinating bee or butterfly in sight.
Meanwhile, the apple orchard's flower buds are still tightly closed but the Asian Pears are starting to show some tip color. I'd like to get a light dose of dormant oil with Neem on each of the trees before the flowers can open but it will not be possible until the rains stop and the trees dry out. It's important not to spray any materials with insecticidal properties (Neem) while the trees are flowering - one does NOT want to be killing the poor pollinating bees, already in crisis from bee colony collapse. The ornamental cherry trees are all coming into flower and the clouds of pink blossoms are delightful.
Beautiful, mahogany-red new leaves are coming out on the thornless blackberries, encouraging me to fertilize them all a bit. No buds out on the raspberries.
In the veggie garden's raised beds, the cabbages are starting to look frisky but they won't make a St. Paddy's day feast this year. After having great success with fall starts left out over winter, the poor plants took a hard, hard hit this year when the temperature in April shot down to 6F. Now they are rallying and the onions and garlic have shot up 4-6" in the last couple of weeks. Sugar pod peas are up and I know they will shoot skyward at the next warm spell.
In the currently unheated greenhouse, fairly well cleaned after the total disaster with the soot from the malfunctioning kerosene, the tubs of lettuce and mesclun seedlings are becoming lovely with assorted green and red leaves. Spinach is coming up, although my attempt to use up the last of the saved seed from a couple of years ago gave me only about 30% on the planting. That's okay, it will become enough for us.
The tarragon has delicious new growth, the rosemary is in full, beautiful blue flower and the oregano is regaining its flavor. Interestingly, our oregano does well over the winter, staying green although growth stops, but the flavor is very insipid. The true, strong "italian" flavor doesn't return until the temperature comes back up. The catnip is up, up and enticing the neighbor's cats.
This week we will close in the end of the hoop house and start, belatedly, our tomatoes and other veggie seeds that require a heated environment.