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April jitters, May hailstorms.

May 5, 2010

After several nights in the 30’s the sky finally broke yesterday afternoon and it hailed for about 10 minutes straight. Not the kind of hail that bruised and battered those kids in Iowa last month …(, but still worrisome for the delicate brussel sprouts and broccolis we planted out this week. The whole thing had me thinking…

It’s easy to get caught up in spring fever. A few warm days, nurseries filled to brimming with big gorgeous tomato plants…. and for us gardeners out there, it’s to the races! Bring on springtime, bring on summer! But weather patterns like this in the Willamette Valley are a good reminder to breathe, be patient and wait for those spring planting deadlines. Plant too soon, and you just scramble to replant everything all over again when the hail, frosts and slugs get to it all before you do.

We made this mistake last year, planting as soon as the “danger of last frost” had passed, not taking into account the cold, wet, clammy soils of the Willamette and the weird bouts of hail and freezing rain we’re still likely to get in April and early May. By the end of May, we were frantically transplanting greenhouse grown starts to ‘catch up’, and were still able to eek out a respectable crop in June, but with lots of cheek biting and sleepless nights factored in. Is it a conspiracy of the nurseries to taunt us with starts so early in the season? Knowing we’ll be back for more?

This spring, I’m still feeling that anxiety, like EVERY spring. Coming from California, I still maintain that this part of the world has the oddest and most unpredictable weather I’ve ever seen and I marvel that anyone can grow anything here, let alone world-class Pinot Noir and blueberries…  but this year, that anxiety is tempered with a little more experience and a little more patience and a little faith that it all works out in the end.

It always does. Nature knows what she’s doing, even if it takes a while for us to catch on.

So for now, I’m content to curl up with back issues of “Hobby Farms” and “Organic Gardening” (thanks Erin and Jason) and dash out for frantic bouts of weeding between hailstorms.

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