Time seems to be flying, I wonder if it’s a symptom of getting older. Saturday my youngest granddaughter turns six.
Family is coming in from all over to celebrate which means another weekend of a full house for me. People will be sleeping every where. I’ll have the upstairs filled, two of the little ones will be sharing my room with me and I’ll even have a guest on the couch.
My daughter-in-law and I sat down and finalized our seed purchases for the garden this week. She doesn’t have a large garden space but I do so the children were asked what they wanted to grow at my home. Each year I give each of the grandchildren a spot to be responsible for growing something of their choice.
The soon-to-be six-year-old took barely a breath before announcing she wants to grow watermelons. She will get to prepare, plant and share responsibilities to watch over the plants, which includes keeping the area weed free with her oldest cousin who also announced he wants to grow watermelons.
Little Guy, who is two and a half, announced he wanted in on the gardening. I asked him what he wants to grow. He thought for a little bit then announced he wants to grow carrots and strawberries. These were the two plants he seemed to have the most fun with last year. He ran first thing on each visit to the strawberry bed and climbed in to get all the ripe berries. When I harvested the carrots I let him help pull them then allowed him to eat as many as he wanted.
The oldest girl asked if she could help in my garden beds and if she could then she would like to grow flowers in her plot since none of the other children choose flowers. She figured that since the others were growing food for us she would provide food for the bees. Gotta love that.
The list of seeds and plants for my garden is long. Many of the plants are typical for any home garden but there are a few that will be added that are unusual. For the children to learn about will be a marshmallow plant and I’m also going to try my hand at growing quinoa.
Quinoa is a staple in my kitchen and the children have decided they like this better than rice. Quinoa likes shade and cooler temperatures, nothing over 90. I’ll plant this along the north side of the shed and hope we don’t see a hot summer.
One of the areas that I still spend quite a bit of my food budget on are teas. So in addition to the other edible plants I am also including lemon verbena mint, chamomile and green tea to eliminate the need to purchase tea from the stores. Together with the fruit trees which provide plenty of variety for herbal teas if all do well I should have a nice selection of teas to choose from.
In the meantime, there are some real concerns what this summer will bring. The reason is simple, we didn’t have a real winter. Will we need to plan for drought or flooding? Cool temps or excessively hot? It’s a guessing game each year any more.
In this part of the country, we count on our snowfall and hard frosts to ensure our plants will thrive the following spring and summer. Many of the edible plants we grow here need the cold temperatures we’ve come to expect to produce the following growing season. I think we had enough cold days that we should be okay this year.
What I am most concerned with is the lack of snowfall we had. In a typical year the accumulated snow will thaw in the spring providing a good soaking to reach the roots of the trees, a necessary process we take for granted.
A tree, whether fruit bearing or not, withdraws the water from it’s leaves and limbs in the autumn sending it to the root systems for winter. We know this is happening when we see the leaves change colors in the fall. In the spring, the tree must push the water stored along with additional water from the snow melt up to the highest branches in order to bud.
I could stand here all day with a water hose and not be able to give the trees the drenching they can get from snow melt.
These are the problems we are going to face in the coming decades as the planet warms. Take almonds, as an example. The majority of the almond crop grown in the US for domestic use has been grown in California. In recent years the droughts have caused the almond trees, which need water, to die off. Almond growers have had to tear down entire orchards because these trees are too thirsty to be able to maintain in drought conditions.
I have one almond tree on my property. Contrary to what many think almonds can grow in a variety of areas as long as there is enough water for them. But what happens when entire regions no longer can support these trees? We lose them from our diet. I know we still have enough rainfall most years that my almond tree should do alright, but how many more years will this be true?
Apples are another tree that I am concerned about. As autumn shortens if we don’t have enough days of cool weather, without frost conditions, we may not have a healthy apple crop. Apples are a staple for many of us here in this part of the country. Apples have been so abundant that we use them in everything from oatmeal and baked goods to baking them with pork dishes.
We have no snow to melt this spring. We only received a fourth of the snowfall expected for this area. Speaking to my son who lives a bit further north and sees a lot more snow than I do here he tells me the situation is even worse.
Spring also arrived earlier this year than it should have. This map shows how much of the US saw an early spring. Don’t get me wrong I love spring and can’t wait for it each year but with everything else going on this is not a good sign.