Yes, I sound like a broken record, and yes, apparently I have issues processing time. Each year feels like an enjoyable somersault through the seasons until I'm astonished to realize the next year has begun!
The new year brought significant snowfall, which is atypical for our Willamette Valley location. It doesn't look like much in the photo, but the temperatures were much more extreme than indicated by the few inches of snow. We had several multi-day stretches of freezing temperatures anomalous to our temperate zone. I'm not yet sure what the full effects will be, but several of my personal plants appear to have been lost. I love plants, and have appreciated collecting what I think of as a plant zoo. Many of them live in a sunroom off of our dining area, but even so, the sustained freezing temperatures were too much for a few of my exotics. I realize now they came to live with us after the polar winter of 2013. I mistakenly thought they had survived that, and therefore wasn't as attentive as I could have been. Obviously, I should have moved my heat-loving plants into the dining room itself, but I'll certainly know to do that next time.
Additional potential losses include some of our established herbs and medicinal plants. The patchouli is definitely gone. My first year ginger and turmeric pots look like they hold nothing but dirt, but I'm hopeful the roots are intact and new shoots will rise with the spring. It looks like the raspberries will also take a hit. In the last two years I could snip a variety of fresh herbs from my outdoor herb garden year round, including mints. They weren't the most fabulous specimens, but for fresh herbs out of season they were pleasing all the same. This winter, they've been reduced to mere nubs, stumps and roots with a month of weather surprises still to go.
It isn't cheap to establish large gardens, so my hope has been to maximize the initial investment through natural propagation of established annual and perennial patches. Our original seed starting initiative took place in 2014, and with the subsequent milder winters, I was perhaps fooled into thinking we could get away with that. This spring will tell the tale of what to expect going forward, as it seems we're in a cycle of colder, snowier winters here on the valley floor. We'll continue to monitor the farm and see what surprises occur. In the great snowstorm of 2013, both a eucalyptus and an aged paw paw seemed forever gone, but we left them to hibernate in their dead-looking states, and sure enough, 2 years later, they’re back in business.
I’m continually amazed at how seemingly dead plants can miraculously spring to life when you don’t give up on them. It’s a valuable lesson, not just concerning plants and trees, but with great application toward people and circumstances. It taught me to not be fooled by discouraging appearances, while leaving time and space for the Lord to do His fine work.
To wrap this up, we’ve begun our first round of veggie seeds, with particular focus on tomato and pepper seedlings in heated trays. The hope is to get more mature plant starts into the garden this year, in further hope of advancing yield dates by at least a week or two. It seems that around here, tomato plants often don’t kick into full fruition until it’s almost time for the rain. If we can edge that forward a little, even an extra week will maximize the window for canning and preserving. It will be interesting to see what happens. I’ll start a round of flower, herb and miscellaneous seeds a bit closer to spring, and we'll also monitor the bee situation. Our hives have done well due to abundant water and forage sources at this location. Hopefully the bees will overwinter nicely and remain happy in their boxes on the farm. Area beekeepers have reported hive loss due to swarming in warmer months, but our hives seem content where they are.
I’ll report back soon – I really mean it this time, ha ha- with pictures and thoughts on some of the honey and herb processing we've done, and a fun surprise or two.
Thanks for stopping by, and God bless!