Back to Back Issues Page
Spring Is In The Air
March 13, 2017

Welcome to January in March.

Yes a nice Arctic blast has moved in.

Not much in the way of snow, but the temperatures are cold and the north winds bring a good chill to the air.

This past week brought an epic wind storm to the region, with record winds (not attributed to a thunderstorm).

A full one third of Michigan was without power at one time (another record).

Thank the good Lord, we were not one of them.

In some ways the cold is good, as it stops the swelling and growth of plant buds, especially the fruit crops that is such an important part of Michigan's agricultural industry.

Some perennials can take a hit right now.

Otherwise, it was a pretty uneventful week around here.

Sometimes we need that.

Slowly, I am getting seeds planted.

Even in the bitter cold, spring is in the air.

You can hear it and feel it as the sun creeps further north.

Today I have a green theme, as St. Patrick's Days is this Friday.

Seed starter mix has been purchased.

Seed trays have moved from the shed to inside the house.

The seed tray have been sanitized.

And slowly I have been planting on schedules.

More and more Robins, and Red-winged blackbirds arrive daily.

Tweets, chirps and song is filling the air.

Black-capped chickadees, Tufted titmice, Northern cardinals and other birds are in full song now..

For the first time, I hear the calls (I like to call them war cries) of Northern flickers.

Canada geese are honking and more Sandhill cranes fly over head as they go to their spring breeding grounds.

Cotton tail rabbits are seen in mating mode as well.

Spring Is In The Air.


Spring is not only in the air,

It is on the ground surface,

It is in the ground,

And even in the streets and roadways.


The mild winter most of us have experienced over much of North America may seem like a blessing to many of you.

The snow blowers and snow shovels get a reprieve.

Many of our backyard birds have burned fewer calories and winter survival rates will be much higher this year.

I saved a bunch on bird food this winter.

If you live in the usual snow belt regions, you may notice less damage and chewing to your shrubs that rabbits, deer and voles/mice, do in a typical winter.

Not to mention, less of a hit financially with lower heating bills.

Let's Flip the Page.

Unless you are in business, we stop to think of the businesses that have been effected by it all?

Ski resorts are hurting.

Other sports like ice fishing, cross country skiing, snow shoeing, and pond hockey were pretty much non existent.

Many winter festivals have been canceled as well.

All of this effects tourism and commerce.

But what does it all mean for you and your gardens?

Spring is in the Air:

It's no secret, Spring is my favorite time of year.

In Michigan however, Spring doesn't spring in, it comes at a snails pace.

It teases us with temperatures in the 60's one day and snow the next.

Still with each passing day, new hope is given to us.

I truly enjoy stepping outside and listening to all of the birds as the length of day dictates to them that it is time

for romance.

Even when the mercury dips below freezing, birds are still singing.

Days slowly grow longer, and even though it may seem like one step forward and two back, the days do eventually grow warmer.

I greet the warmth of the sun with open arms.

I love the smell of a spring rain.

Yes, even the smell of earthworms say spring to me.

Spring in the air, also means the "Wake the Dead Smell" of skunks as they come out of hibernation and much earlier this year.

Not to mention the insects that never froze off.

It was common sight this winter to see insects flying around in January, and February.

A nice day in the 40's and warmer and there they were, in little swarms.

I'm not saying this will be a bad year for bugs, but don't be surprised.

Spring is on the Surface:

In cold regions, you may expect an abundance of of skunks, chipmunks, gophers, raccoons, woodchucks (groundhogs), prairie dogs and other ground squirrels.

Because hibernation was short this year, ( many animals wake from their slumber on warmer winter days to feed) many animals are waking earlier than normal.

Many animals that may otherwise go to sleep and never wake up due to freezing cold spells, have survived this year.

More critters to dig up your yards and gardens.

My friends in the south haven't escaped entirely.

The beloved Armadillo does not hibernate, but I do understand they can migrate short distance to get out of the cold.

This winter has been warmer for you too.

Many of these critters tear up yards as they root for something to eat.

No matter how you look at it, 'Creation' also has the weather as part of Its built in checks and balance system.

Spring is in the Ground:

Most of the above creatures dig holes for nests as well.

For many of us, moles are the scourge of the lawn and garden.

Moles Don't Hibernate:

These carnivores must feed year round, even when we don't see their damage.

In cold winter months, food sources like worms, go deep where the ground is not frozen and a bit warmer.

Moles follow the food and it is difficult for even these master diggers to run through frozen earth.

Now, in mild winters like this, the ground never freezes, worms don't have to go deep and grubs and other root feeding larvae are active.

Tunnels and mounds pop up over night.

Your once beautiful lawn is now a maze of tunnels and unsightly earthen mounds.

Moles are always there, but years like this they seem more prevalent.

You may also find littler craters in your lawns where skunks and armadillos dig for food.

Spring is on the Streets:

Roads and highways.

Roadkill is prevalent, and often stinky.

Skunks, coons, now out number the opossums as they main carrion for crows and other scavengers.

You know spring is around the corner when you see and smell the sights.

Worms litter drives, walkways and patios.

For some it may be disgusting, for me it becomes food for some birds and fertilizer for the plants and grass.

Don't wish too hard for mild winters, you will find that spring may not always be as rewarding.

Another issue with mild winter is early plant growth.

Your plants have had plenty of time to slumber and rejuvenate for another growing season.

Hardy plants survive what most winters throw at them, especially native plants that were created just for such weather conditions.

All around my yard, I am noticing plants coming to life.

Buds are swelling on trees and shrubs.

Even with a nice layer of fall leaves that offer protection, plants are popping up.

Don't remove this leaf litter, keep it there for added protection, nesting material for birds, a place for ground feeding birds to hunt, and leaves provide a good mulch as they decompose.

Not to mention they help retain soil moisture.

Perennials and fall bulbs are peaking through the ground.

Karen's tulips are popping early, offering a tasty treat for the deer and rabbits.

Plants that never went completely dormant.

I have Coreopsis and some phlox, showing green as with many other perennials popping up.

(Even the spring weeds are a head of schedule.)

Now, without the protective layer of snow and plants emerging.............................

What will happen to this growth and that of many plants if a severe cold snap hits?

Its happened before.

Most perennials will rebound.

If you decide to take a chance and start planting seeds early, make sure you have plenty for a second planting if needed.

I'm one to encourage being different and taking a risk, but don't put all of your eggs in one basket.

Spring, I still love it.

I will attempt embrace what this odd year weather wise has to offer.

Will you join me?

Well, it is time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

God Bless.

"Many of us fear failure to the point of being willing to settle for one of the truest forms of failure

—Not trying at all."

Nicole LaBeach, Ph.D

Fear is a universal problem.

Threatening like a menacing undertow, waiting to grab and drag you under.

When you and I are in the grasp of fear, we can't function.

Here is God's answer.

"It is the Lord who goes before you.

He will be with you;

He will not leave you or forsake you.

Do not fear or be dismayed".

Deuteronomy 31:8

“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid,

but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”

2 Timothy 1:7

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb.

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

Back to Back Issues Page