Today I was reading that warm weather in February can mean an early spring. We are having a mild stretch. Yesterday and today it was 60 and I think that a few more nice days are predicted before it cools off again and there is the potential for more snow. Our last frost date for our zone is the third week in May. I have been slowly working into the seed starting routine. Last year I saved some seeds and purchased larger packets of others hoping to have quite a few seed varieties that wouldn't need to be ordered new. So before I start whole flats of different seeds I am starting small amounts of them to check on their germination potential. Then once I know what I have that is usable I will know what I need to order. It was good to get everything set up, the heat mat out and the lights plugged in and working. It is a good feeling. So far I have some baby seedlings breaking thru the soil mix surface so I am encouraged by that.
The other thing that I am doing is getting ready for my second season of maple sap collecting and syrup making. Last year I tentatively tried tapping one of my maple trees. To be honest, I had never considered tapping the trees until the spring before when sap was dripping from some places high in the tree where we had had some branches cut the previous fall. I could hear it dripping on the ground. So I bought one tap, bucket and cover and when that worked I bought a second. I have two large maple trees in my yard, not sugar maples but they will work for making syrup. My trees are large enough that they are supposed to be able to handle more than one tap and so today I bought two more taps, buckets and covers so this year I will double hopefully double my yields. There is a magic formula of certain warm daytime temperatures and certain cooler overnight temperatures that stimulate the sap to move and I am not sure if the current temperature pattern is right but if it is I will be ready.
A picture from last year.
The warm weather has had some definite effects that I am grateful for. The herd's water is staying thawed and I am glad to not have to fight with that morning and evening. My yard and especially the area that I walk to the barn has been a sheet of ice and much of that has melted so it is a little safer.
I have also not had to run the little milkhouse heaters in the winter greenhouse for over a week. This has been kind of a disappointing season for the winter greenhouse. The cloudy winter has really negatively impacted the growth of the greens but also the lack of sun has not helped to warmed up the greenhouse. On a sunny day the greenhouse will warm up to over 100+ degrees and then it will cool off somewhat slowly overnight. Most of the days this winter the greenhouse was lucky to have a daytime temp in the 60s or 70. Then it would cool off more quickly and need supplemental heat during the night. We have not had more than a handful of those sunny days this winter.
As an experiment we tried overwintering some potted ferns of my sister's patio and a potted ghost pepper of Cait and Robb's both of which did not make it thru a frigid spell earlier this winter when it was really cold ( I want to say -20+ for 36 straight hours but don't quote me) and the greenhouse dropped to 28 degrees and it was enough below freezing to kill them. My other experiment, a potted strawberry plant had a lot of brown leaves but now is having some new green growth. We will see if it flowers and produces strawberries. My hope was that it would fruit during the winter but even if we can get earlier berries in the spring that would be great. I think next year I will try a few more. I have room to hang quite a few and quite a few hanging baskets so I think that I will try a few more next year.
Our deer fence took a hit. The first snow left the poles bent in half or leaning. The plastic mesh seems to be okay so I am hoping that we can replace those posts with wood ones and be able to rescue it. It is a big garden so a lot of holes to dig. At the same time it will be an opportunity to reinforce the bottom edge to keep out the rabbits who last year found their way under. I keep hoping that the rabbits will be afraid of the big dogs that live here but so far it does not seem to be the case. I think they guard all of the animals on the farmsite and think that the rabbits in the yard and the pheasants in the grove are to be protected as well. And I guess that is okay.
Joining Met Monday at BNOTP here.