The prom­ise and frus­tra­tion of an early spring

The Daily Herald - - HOME & GARDEN - STEVE SMITH

Now that we have fin­ished the first six months of the year, I feel com­pelled to re­port on my ob­ser­va­tions and fu­ture fore­casts for the sum­mer. It has been an in­ter­est­ing sea­son so far, to say the least.

If you can, re­mem­ber back to our win­ter. Other than a week of be­low freez­ing temps, it was rel­a­tively mild. I can al­ways tell how cold it got by the num­ber of blooms on my wife’s Aye­sha hy­drangea — it is loaded this year. As pre­dicted, El Nino brought us lots of rain and above nor­mal tem­per­a­tures.

The big­gest re­sult of this pat­tern was a very early spring. It seemed as though ev­ery­thing was about a month ahead of sched­ule. Dog­woods bloomed in April in­stead of May; I was har­vest­ing blue­ber­ries in June in­stead of July and the com­mer­cial cherry grow­ers recorded their ear­li­est har­vest ever. My pota­toes are al­ready blooming, the broc­coli has gone to seed and we just fin­ished off the pea crop (which prob­a­bly should have been picked a cou­ple weeks ago).

The early spring also meant that I had to start wa­ter­ing sooner than I would have liked. De­spite the 10 inches of rain in March and the scat­tered show­ers in May and June, our soils are very dry, es­pe­cially where there are un­der­ly­ing tree roots. Af­ter last sum­mer’s heat and drought, I hope that most of us have learned that our land­scapes will ben­e­fit from sup­ple­men­tal ir­ri­ga­tion. The heavy rains cer­tainly put us in bet­ter shape than this time last year, but if you put a shovel in the ground you might be sur­prised how dry it re­ally is. Plan on drag­ging a hose around this sum­mer if you want to pro­tect your land­scape in­vest­ment.

A mild win­ter and early spring has also brought more bugs. I saw young grasshop­pers last week in the field across the street, which is un­heard of con­sid­er­ing that in some years we have none due to our mild sum­mers. On the up side, more bugs mean more pol­li­na­tors and more food for the birds. For the first time ever, I had a Monarch but­ter­fly fly through one of our green­houses (who knows where it came from or where it was go­ing). It’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that bugs are an es­sen­tial part of the ecosys­tem and learn­ing to co­ex­ist with them, to some de­gree, is a good idea.

If I was to sum up the year so far, I would de­scribe it as start­ing out promis­ing and end­ing up frus­trat­ing. Af­ter be­ing teased with sev­eral glo­ri­ously sun drenched days in April and May, we have now been tor­tured with con­sec­u­tive rainy week­ends. It is so easy to for­get that our sum­mers are rarely con­sis­tently sunny and warm un­til July. The stand­ing joke is that sum­mer starts on the Fifth of July in the North­west. If spring came early and ev­ery­thing in the gar­den is a month ahead of sched­ule, shouldn’t we be jus­ti­fied in ex­pect­ing sum­mer to be here early too?

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