Blaska’s Blog is unaffiliated with any state media!
It’s 79 degrees F this April 11 at the Blaska Experimental Work Farm (and Penal Colony), here in Madison WI. The Head Groundskeeper is jonesing to plant his seeds. Must be patient. How many times can Wisconsin break your heart before you wise up? (Never mind politics!)
Enriched the main 26- by 14-foot garden last fall with a 3-inch layer of macerated leaves. Plan to leave the leaves and just etch a few rows with a hoe. Because we broadcast Buttercrunch lettuce seed like grass seed, the unlettered field hands scraped clean a square yard’s worth of soil today to warm it up. Soil thermometer read 48°. If the backyard agriculturalist has learned anything (that’s a big 72-point, bold-faced “IF”) it is to cool your jets until the dirt warms up. We’ve done more than our share of replanting due to premature expectations. On the other soil-besotted hand, seed is cheap. Life is a gamble (or a cabaret) my friends.
A wonderful website tells you your the average soil temperature; just plug in the zip code. 53711 yielded a 55° which, sure enough was the digital read-out our device flashed when plunged into bare soil. Another website posts first and last freeze dates by locality. You’re safe at home here in Madison planting May 20. Push it up to May 2 and you’ve got a 50-50 chance of heartbreak by the numbers.
Harvest to Table displays tolerance for soil temps by each vegetable. Lettuce is pretty cold tolerant — might sow in another 10 days. Beets on May 1. Our prized Romano-style pole beans (Jung’s “Hilda” variety) must wait till May 20. Maybe the 19th … They crawl up the hog wire hoops so you can walk underneath and pluck them. (Discussed here.)
Flowers in our hair
Flowers every where! We’re starting a meadow on another part of the Work Farm. A cotton bag of all-annual Bold Color Wildflower seeds from American Meadows awaits in the cool of the cellar. Ten annual wildflowers, including poppies, zinnias, sunflowers, cosmos, calendulas, gaillardias. Will sow like grass. Laid down a path through the meadow using boards scavenged curbside down the street. Full sun.
Suffocating the weeds with one-ply sheets of deconstructed leaf bags, which are the same gauge as brown paper shopping bags. Intended to pour compost from Blaska’s Famous Worm Pile directly atop the bags with the notion that the roots will work their way through the paper but may just pull up the paper and rototill.
May save the compost for the asparagus patch. Rich and fluffy! Like chocolate cake mix! Swear I saw father Jerome taste the soil one spring before planting. He was a master crops man: peas, oats, barley, winter wheat, field corn, tobacco.
When we first acquired the Experimental Work Farm, the back yard was a grass lawn from fence to fence. Over last 32 years, wore out a Poulan chainsaw cutting down six silver maples, a seven-foot high yew hedge, and one ginormous, nightmarish weeping willow that polluted the rain gutters spring, summer, fall and winter with tree trash. Carved out various mini-scapes of hostas, viburnum bushes; a shade garden of jack-in-the pulpit trillium, bloodroot and bluebells; sunlit patches of monarda and echinacea. It’s something to do.
Blaska’s Bottom Line: Once dreamed of enlarging our holdings. Plan was to move the backyard fence into Orchard Ridge Park incrementally, a few stealthy feet every spring. Stymied when the City of Madison put a volleyball court directly behind us. That’s what you get when you recall the mayor and fail.
Pingback: Hooray for global worming – Wisconsin Family News
“What’s the latest dirt over by you?”
Anywho, that there warm sun is pure joy for a Wyrt-Weard‘s bones, am I right? Been 150 days since we last hit 70°F/21.1°C (yesterday), oddly enough on the lovely and long suffering Mrs. Gotch’s birthday.
The Gotchberg Organic Gardens And Lefty Conversion Therapy Emporium direct seeded soaked-n-sprouted April Cross Daikon Hybrid Radish on Sunday and soaked Space Hybrid Spinach yesterday.
Both have proven their mettle against temperature set-backs: The 2020 Mother’s Day hard frost, the 2021 Memorial Day weekend soft freeze, and last year’s record cool/late Spring come to mind.
Will be planting all manner of greens, and THE best Pak Choi in the known Universe (the inimitable Joi Choi) in the next few days.
Most of the ~ 140 some Tomato, Squarsh, Cuke, Zuke, & Basil plants are thriving under the lights as they await their time, and (while behind the rolling average) all ~370 Garlic shoots are LUVin’ this warm dry weather and reaching for the sky.
Was going to ask about the buried unmentionables, glad you received the…um…desired result; you make good on your promise to buy the lovely Lisa a replacement…?
What is this global warming you speak of? We here in Forest county have studied this post with wonder tinged with a fleck of envy. Yesterday (4/11), the up to a yard of snow in the woods continue to make the men collecting maple sap sore, and grumpy. It’ll be several more days until the snowshoes come off the boots and the tracks come off the ATV. And weeks before the ice comes off the lake. This time of year, the diversity of Wisconsin’s climate continues to amaze.
Read more carefully. I spoke of global wOrming!
LikeLiked by 1 person
I guess we did not study the post enough. Or all this snow had us a little tetchy about warmth in other parts of the state. I’m thinking the latter. The above average temperatures finally hit Forest county hard enough to dent our snow and ice. The men report that the footing in the woods is getting better and there is talk of taking the tracks of the ATV. Huzzah!
Here just to the south of you we have a little snow in the shade, but that will be gone by sundown as it is 80F right now. I just hope this warm weather doesn’t screw up the normal way of things for my 22 apple trees trees. Too early for night crawler picking.
LikeLiked by 1 person
that burn runs deep nemo.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Jimmy Hoffa (or pieces of him) in there somewhere?
Beware a man who keeps a worm farm.
When the hysterical squeals about global warming–now rebranded as climate change–first began to be heard (and eagerly parroted by the media) sometime in the early 90s, I was praying that I lived to see palm trees dotting the hillsides of Wisconsin. Since then, the climate change cult has spread like weeds in an ill-tended garden and still nary a palm tree in sight. Not long ago Tucker did an episode that examined how well predictions from climate change “experts” had fared. For example, Miami would be under 6 feet of water by 2010, California would be experiencing “perpetual drought” starting in 2000, etc. Of course, when the apocalypse failed to arrive on schedule, the “scientists” merely recalibrated their “data” (i.e., made another guess), which was then treated like holy writ by the cultists and their scribes in the media. How many of their predictions came to pass, you ask? Drumroll … zero.
Meanwhile, plant and tend your gardens as usual, secure in the knowledge that the climate that enables your beans and petunias to flourish will perform its magic as it always has.
April 14th is National Gardening Day.
Get out there & do your Soil proud!