Wild card tosses weather prediction for loop

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By Cheryl Steenerson

I love this weather. I’ll take 60 degrees on Groundhog Day instead of ice, anytime.
This isn’t even close to what I predicted for our winter weather. My friend Tina asked me a while back what happened. Well, I found out.
Turns out we had a wild card in the mix. Before I get to that, I should remind you that the Jet Stream moves our weather across the country. Picture Old Man Winter sitting off the California coast, with cheeks puffed out and blowing east. The wind stream that results travels like a Kentucky country road, with lots of ups and down across the country.
Enter the wild card known as the Arctic Oscillation. It deals with the atmospheric pressure, between the Arctic and the mid-latitudes of the North Atlantic and North Pacific Oceans. There can be high pressure and low pressure and it moves up and down like a seesaw on the playground.
Think of the pressure as positive or negative. Last winter it was in a very negative phase, so we had the cold and snow we normally associate with winter. This winter we’ve had a very positive phase, holding all the cold well north. There are many other factors that jump on the winter weather bandwagon, but this is the simple answer to our unusually warm winter. I am happy to have been wrong on this one.
Let’s take advantage of all this mild weather and do a little gardening. You can prune roses and fertilize them.  You can sow seeds for carrots, beets, cabbage and peas. Hopefully, by the time you have read, this I will have already planted peas and carrots.
If you didn’t get any tulip bulbs in last fall, you have a second chance, and you don’t even have to dig. Find an empty flower bed and loosen the soil a bit. Mix in a little bulb fertilizer and then lay the bulbs on top. Don’t press them into the soil. Next, cover them with 4 inches of mulch and you’re done.
Inside the house, it’s time to add a little potting soil to your house plants. Think of it as top dressing. It’s also the beginning of seed starting time, so if you haven’t ordered seeds, get started.
I have some exciting news to share with you all. This is so cool. By March of this year, we will begin a seed library at our public library. Instead of checking out books, audios or DVDs, you can check out seeds for herbs, edibles and ornamentals for the season. At the end of the season, you will harvest and save seeds from your grown crops, and return those. Best of all, it’s totally free.
Now, before you get too excited, we are just beginning the seed library. Our collection will grow, with everyone’s help. We’ll have a little orientation for users, so that everyone knows how to collect and save seed, before you are allowed to check anything out. Give us time and keep your Saturday mornings free in March and the beginning of April. We will have several gardening workshops, all free, during that time.
There will be one Tuesday class on March 13 at 7 p.m., and I’ll be presenting the program. Remember, we only have six more Mondays before spring officially arrives, so get going on those gardening chores.
Just like the cat said after he got his tail caught in the door, “It won’t be long now.”
Happy growing.

Cheryl Steenerson is a gardening columnist for The Anderson News.