Monday, March 15, 2010

Early Spring, To Be Or Not To Be?

Wild Plants And Wooly Bears

Today, Monday, March 15, 2010, the ice left my farm pond. This marks the earliest date ever for ice-out. What’s more, coltsfoot, Tussilago farfara, blossoms are beginning to open. This usually doesn’t happen until the beginning of the second week of April, three weeks hence. I suspect that soon, people in southern Maine will report seeing dandelions in bloom. At first glance, coltsfoot flowers bear some resemblance to dandelion blossoms.

Weather forecasters predict temperatures in the mid-50’s for the foreseeable future. So what, if anything, does this mean in the long run?

It’s easy to assume that balmy conditions so early in the year indicate above-average temperatures for spring and summer. Such thinking only makes it more difficult to accept a sudden turn-about, if that should happen. Better to take it day-by-day and accept what we have to deal with in the here and now.

Last year’s cold, rainy weather set the stage for low expectations this year. By July 4, my garden vegetables had all yellowed and died, victims of standing water, cold temperatures and lack of sunlight. So this year, despite an unusually early spring, I’m taking measures to prevent another such loss. In short, instead of regular, garden beds, I’m building raised beds. These drain well and in the case of prolonged inundation, should give cultivated vegetables at least a 50-50 chance for survival.

And if, in fact, we here in Maine are blessed with a warm, dry spring and summer season, what of it? We can only say that it’s about time that Maine enjoyed the comforts associated with prolonged, warm weather.

So get out, enjoy the near-record temperatures. Watch for pussy willows to sport their fuzzy, white catkins. Sharpen that dandelion digger. Buy a fishing license. Do all the things that come to mind at the approach of spring. Maybe, just maybe, we will win this time, after all.

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