Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Any USDA hardiness map of New York State shows a long zone 4 finger stretching from the rugged Adirondack Mountains to a point near the Pennsylvania border. Our garden is located near the southern tip of that finger. Winter is the customary season here at this time of year. The ground should be frozen beneath several inches of snow now and a fierce north wind should have all creatures seeking shelter. Instead of those conditions, we now are dealing with soft ground and pleasant temperatures. Outside work is possible now if the spot is chosen carefully.
The wall at this corner of our property has long been a favorite sitting place for both us and the resident chipmunks. The huge wild cherry tree grows from the neighbor's land but we can sit in its summer shade. Picked field stone covers this area. We are working to remove the stone and create conditions favorable for desirable native plants. Levering out some of the brier root will slow down these invasive pests but we know that we have not seen the last of them . Most of the stone here is small broken pieces useful only for chinking or fill. The combination of stone and sun makes this a good place to work outside as January draws to a close.
We have been avoiding the garden. Ice crystals firmly hold the soil just beneath the surface. Large clods of garden come along with any weeds pulled . Damage to the desirable plants is the result of any garden work done now. Incredibly cold and aching fingers accompany any attempt to work in the dirt . An early Dutch Iris has broken the surface near chrysanthemum stems providing loose cover for its next year's growth. The iris is early but it should survive. The chrysanthemum is having a hard winter.
So we say goodbye to January 2012. Daytime temperatures here climbed into the 50s F today. It felt good to be outside in the strengthening sunshine but we really need some traditional winter weather.