Sunday, March 25, 2012

March 2012 - In like a lion, then became T Rex -how will the month end? (Part 2)

So there I was puttering around in between rain storms, trying to get everything done that needed to be done.  It was cold - in the mid-40's, with cold wind and rain every few hours, but I was still able to do a few things on occasional sun breaks.
The marionberry vines for this years crop had grown all the way down to the ground and were rooting beneath the mulch.  I ran 2 x 3 cedar stringers between the support posts, trimmed the vines, and ran them along the lateral supports.
Laterals put on the berry supports and vines trained to run along them.

As the new leaves sprout out, the old leaves dry up and fall off - I spent a few hours getting rid of all the rest of the old leaves (which you see in this photo as red/brown/green) and training the vines on the trellis and lateral supports.  I wanted to make sure there were no bug cocoons on those old leaves and get everything cleaned up for new growth to happen.

I pulled off some of the dry straw on top of the beds and shredded it - added this to my winter mulch between the beds to discourage weeds and grass from coming up.

Strawberry bed #1 - this was the bed that I put straw on to overwinter the berry plants.  when I took it all off, I saw that the damp wet straw had killed off some of the plants, and the ones that were left didn't look too healthy...

This was the strawberry bed with the straw mulch

Strawberry bed #2 - this was the bed that I didn't put straw on for mulch - I used a winter weight row cover.  These plants fared much better, but I did have some slug damage.  I should have been putting some sluggo down earlier.  

 This pic was taken after I cut back some old leaves, and then thinned out the plants and repopulated the 1st bed with some of the runners I found in here.

Then the rains returned, and colder weather.  It rained so much - between a quarter  inch to an inch of rain - every day.  It was so cold, sometimes the high for the day was only in the low forties.  Then the forecast called for the possibility of snow.

In the Northwest, in the Willamette Valley, when the forecasters call for snow in spring, we usually get a light dusting and then it melts by the next morning.  So that is what I expected. That is not what happened.

This is actually a lot of snow for the light dustings that we usually might get in the Willamette Valley at low elevations this time of year (I am at about 125 feet above sea level). This was my view last Wednesday morning.  Notice how tall the rosemary on the right is ( and it was just starting to bloom).

But this time, it didn't melt.  In fact, it never warmed up last Wednesday - it kept snowing off and on all day long.  This is what the yard looked like when I got home from work.

11:00 at night - there was so much snow out, the porch lights and street lights were reflecting off the snow and making it as light as day.  this pic was taken from my porch, with no flash and no porch light on.  At this point, we had about 2 inches of snow.

This is what we woke up to - My poor rosemary, bent in half from the weight of heavy snow, up to 5 inches in spots.  About a third of the upper part of my rosemary bush was broken - I did a lot of harvesting after brushing off the snow.
This was the biggest shock - every row cover except for one had collapsed under the weight of the snow - 4 - 5 inches of heavy, weight, snow.

Here you can see the one bed that didn't collapse - in the background is pea bed #1 - already with new row cover on it.  The plants were a bit flattened, but I think I got to them in time.

Two days later the snow was all melted, and it was 60 degrees.  I will be making changes in how I do the row cover for next fall and winter.  I will put in supports under the high point of the arch to keep any snow from collapsing the frame, and putting more clips on to protect plants from occasional high winds. The plants that were up, chives and garlic, were bent, but recovered.  Strawberry plants had been a bit crushed, but nothing serious.  Thank goodness my main crop of Broccoli Rabe was in the bed that didn't have the cover collapse.

When I first saw all the damage that these storms had wrought, my first thought was to quit on planting seeds early.  I vowed to not plant anything outside until April; I didn't want to go through all this worry again - something that I have done for too many years.

But I know myself too well.  In Rumer Godden's novel, "An Episode of Sparrows", Lovejoy experiences the destruction of her first garden.  she vows to never do that to her heart again - never open herself up to the wonderment of growing something, of planning beauty, of creating life.  But even as she walks away, she can't help herself.  Part of her is planning the next garden, only this time it will be better protected.  She has been bitten by the gardening bug, and nothing can stop her from planning for this future garden.  No matter what destruction I see in my early attempts to grow food, I know that I would do the same thing all over again.  There may come a time when my body is too old to shovel dirt, pull weeds, build beds, plan, sow, protect, reap and preserve; but I pray that is a long time off.

This weekend, we had enough sun so that I could do cleanup, weed the bean beds, and build a new bed for my herbs.  In between rain showers; it is after all, still early spring in Oregon.

The new herb bed

I plan to transplant some of the herbs I have scattered around the garden into this box - not all of them, because some herbs in with the veggies is good gardening practice. I have one box of catnip and peppermint that I planted last year where I need to move the box - it is in the way of my future front fence.  So I will move those plants into this box.  (And somehow protect the catnip from the kitties.  Now if it will just stop raining long enough for me to get a load of  dirt that I desperately need.  There are bare root plants to pot up, grapevines to transplant...



  1. wow. that was a LOT of snow!

  2. slug damage on strawberry plants? hmmm... I've got SLUGS and they leave my strawberries alone. you sure it is slugs?

  3. Pretty sure - mainly because I have been picking them out of the bed, and couldn't find anything else. When it gets a bit warmer I will look again. What else would eat the leaves?