This winter in the desert southwest we have had, at least what feels like, record heat. It always seems like a fictional story to watch the news of weather in other parts of the country, especially those experiencing record cold and snow. After years of living in various cold and snowy locations I can no longer envision prolonged cold and snowy climates. Up by the garden we have not had a killing frost since early February, which is very unusual. This has resulted in fruit trees, bulbs, shallots, rhubarb, onions, and a host of other plants sprouting and fruiting early. Now that the cherry and apple trees are in full bloom, we hope we can stay above freezing so we can enjoy bumper crops.
Unlike when I was growing up, my two favorite garden helpers get two weeks for spring break. Now, it might just be them telling me they are on spring break as they never seem to actually be in school – a snow day here, a day off there, this or that vacation other times. At any rate, they came down out of the mountains for a visit. What better to have them do during this unexpected warmth than visit the garden and help get it ready for summer. The biggest challenge we ran into the kids was a sheer lack of weight to power a shovel or pitchfork through compacted dirt; just left more for the rest of us to do.
What we did have great success with was planting some early season vegetables that should be somewhat frost tolerant should a more normal weather pattern returns. On the way up to the garden we stopped at the garden center and picked up some kale, Texas Sweet and red onions, and Brussels sprouts, a new crop for us. So, after amending the soil with various additives, my free labor and I set to work planting all of the new vegetables.
We also got the irrigation system up and running for the season. With an experienced helper that went much easier than normal and I had some company walking around the yard looking for broken sprinkler heads and such. Luckily there were only a few breaks that needed repair this year.
Down at home, the peppers I planted are doing very well and are about ready to be re-potted. The tomato seedlings are about ready to be grafted. And, I started the tomatillos last week. While I am nervous about what a warmer than normal season might mean, I am hopeful the frost holds off up by the garden so the fruit and other plants do well. After our short winter, the house and yard are once again filling-up with plants and I am filling-up with expectations of bountiful harvests.