Winter Woes as Spring Plans Take Shape

Time seems to be flying, I wonder if it’s a symptom of getting older. Saturday my youngest granddaughter turns six.

soon to be 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.

Garden Plans

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.

The quinoa bed is being prepared. I've piled up branches to use Hugelkultur practices to enhance the soil that will be laid and extend the growing season. Yes, painting of the shed is also on this year's agenda.
The quinoa bed is being prepared. I’ve piled up branches to use Hugelkultur practices to enhance the soil that will be laid and extend the growing season.
Yes, painting of the shed is also on this year’s agenda.

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.

Winter Woes

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.




        • I’ve been thinking of you too. I’ve been down in the dumps. A combination of too much company, getting sick and news I wish I didn’t know. I’m still coughing and haven’t had a voice for a few days now but I’m finally on the mend.

          So for the last couple of days I’ve been trying to come up with a blog post that wasn’t me whining. I kept thinking how I wished you had a new post because your writing inspires and often makes me laugh. Anyway, I’m doing better, gotta keep going on.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Going to have to think of something too. I haven’t written in weeks. We are all struggling. You can always e-mail me and vent. Then it stays between us and you get to offload. That will help your cough.


          • Thanks but once started I don’t know where it would end, there is just so much wrong happening. I do realize that it’s the stress that most likely lowered my immune system and am trying to work on that. I’m here if you need to talk always will be.

            Liked by 1 person

  1. It’s been a crazy warm winter here too… Well, first we had one of the warmest falls on record, then in December & January we got a bit of winter, but for the past 6 weeks or so it’s been like spring around here. It’s great for biking, but I’m quite concerned about what it portends. The saving grace for Denver is that the mountains have been hammered with snow, so our reservoirs will be nice and full. Of course, watering can’t make up for the kind of moisture that falls from the sky, but at least it’s something.

    I hope your trees survive. My next door neighbor has lost 2 fruit trees in the past few years due to the wacky weather. We keep getting this crazy warm weather too soon, which tricks the trees into thinking it’s time to come out of their dormant state – then POW! Winter comes roaring back and kills them.

    Anyhow, I can’t wait to hear how it goes growing quinoa and green tea! These are things I didn’t realize one could grow in this part of the world! I’m planning on experimenting with radishes and sweet potatoes this year.

    Hope you have a wonderful visit with your family, and that the full house doesn’t drive you completely over the edge!


    • We didn’t have winter until January and then it was a few days here then spring like temps for week or so. The coldest temperatures we’ve had was this past week which is crazy! I was out watching the trees while it was in the 70s and only the silver maple had started to bud. That tree is huge and very old so I think it will be fine, the fruit trees didn’t bud which is a relief.

      I’m more concerned the green tea won’t thrive than I am the quinoa but I’ll keep you posted on both. I had planned to try sweet potatoes this year but didn’t have the space ready, it will have to wait until next year. I’ve had more bad luck with radishes than good. I had one year they were delicious but then I had years where they were so hot I couldn’t eat them. Good luck with yours and pass on any tips you learn on both please.

      Oh, and the full house did drive me crazy so glad they all finally went home. 🙂


  2. While we’ve had essentially no snow this winter, we have had a lot of rain. I think/hope that that should be doing adequate watering.

    I’m very interested to see how your quinoa growing goes. I’ll let you figure it out and then maybe I’ll try it. And as always, it’s fun to catch up with the grandkids.


    • I sure hope we’ve had enough rain but there’s something special about a good drenching all at once from a couple feet of snow melt that really helps the trees. I can see a huge difference in the timing of the budding here compared to further north where we had way more snow left come spring.

      I’ll definitely keep you posted on my quinoa experiment. Keep your fingers crossed for me that we don’t have an especially hot summer. The children have decided quinoa is their favorite staple and want it every time they visit so it would be nice to have a harvest that saves on the grocery bill.


    • I sure hope that’s true, Anne, I’d hate to miss out on apples. As for kids, they will gladly play in dirt but add food to the mix and they enjoy it even more. 🙂


  3. I have my garden about half in and the peas are up. Our neighbor gave us a fig tree and I’m so excited about that. We bought some raspberry canes today and we have lemons and limes, but I really miss my Minnesota apple trees
    Your grandchildren chose so thoughtfully and probably the same plants mine would choose. Enjoy your company!


    • Nothing is in here yet. We can safely start planting in May and I have so many ideas I want to try. I’ll have plenty of raspberry canes to hopefully have enough left to put up after the children enjoy picking at them. We can’t grow citrus but apples we have.

      I think most children would put a lot of thought into what to grow, the neighbor boys have asked for strawberries, bell peppers and cucumbers. I didn’t realize I would be growing for the neighbors when I moved here but love seeing them experiment with new foods.


  4. I sure wish we could send you some of our rain and snow…. I can’t believe your granddaughter is six! Happy birthday to her. I, too, am interested in your quinoa-growing experience. For some reason, it never occurred to me to grow it.


    • While I know we need the snow, I think I’ll pass on your generous offer. 🙂 We were supposed to get dumped on this past week but we got less than half and inch of snow….just really cold temps for this time of year. Hope you didn’t get it too bad.

      I’ll keep you posted on the quinoa. I didn’t realize it could be grown here either. For some reason I assumed it needed hot temperatures or to be grown in water like rice.


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