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Be ready for weather to drive you nuts

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By Cheryl Steenerson

Tree frogs in February? Honest to John, I heard them singing symphonies here on the farm last Thursday. I’m half expecting lightning bugs to show up next. This has certainly been a weird winter. I know we’re all itching to plant and I’m going to do just that.
My peas, carrot and potato seeds and broccoli and cauliflower plants are going in just as soon as I get the time.
My beds have been covered with black plastic all winter, so the soil is warm and dry. I figure that I can replant, if the weather turns bad. If it doesn’t turn bad, I’ve got a jump on the season.
I don’t know if we have climate change to thank or just some weird weather phenomenon, but we farmers are adaptable. May will probably be cold, but hey, we’re still ahead of the game. Some stores have gardening items on display. You won’t find summer vegetables yet, except in seed packets, but we can get that itch scratched, at least a little.
The dogs have loved this warmth. They’ve been all over the farm checking out their favorite spots, coming home with muddy feet and stick tights. Tiller has already gone swimming in the creek. At least it’s been warm enough for her to sun herself dry on the porch.
If you’ve been waiting for the soil to dry enough to till your garden, you may be in for a long wait. We seem to have rain twice a week. Just keep an eye on it and wait. You can ruin your soil for years if you till it when it’s wet. Those clumps of clay soil get as hard as pottery.
While you wait, plan what you want to plant and where. Get a soil test done in the meantime. The county Extension office will help you with that. Pick up bags of lime and corn meal gluten while you’re out.
Lime will lower the acidity of the soil. That’s called sweetening. Vegetables in general, like a sweeter soil and are more productive because of it. Your soil test will tell you how much you need.
The corn meal gluten is for the lawn. Early spring is the prime time to spread this stuff on the lawn. It fertilizes, keeps broadleaf weeds down, and inhibits the stuff that skunks and moles want to dig for in our lawns. It even deters dandelions. I love my dandelions, though.
Dandelion greens are really good when they’re young and they have a boatload of iron packed into them. They’re even better for you than broccoli. I like them fresh in salads and on sandwiches, instead of lettuce. Of course, I have two great areas to pick from that are off limits to the dogs.
We’ve got lots of native plants that offer some fine eats.
The wild garlic is already up in many lawns, right beside the daffodils popping up all over the landscape. While you’re out walking around in this fine weather, take a look at your trees. It seems like everything has buds already. Forsythia will be bringing spots of yellow sunshine before we know it.
Now, get going outside and see what you can do. We’re going to be busy early this year and I think the weather is going to drive us nuts. Some may say we’re already there. There is one thing you can count on every year, gardening is never boring.
Happy growing.

Cheryl Steenerson is a gardening columnist for The Anderson News.