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Spring is in the Air, On the ground, in the.......
March 05, 2012

(Annual Cilantro surviving winter.)

The freezing rain went north of here Wednesday morning.

No lost tears for me, yet I'm always concerned for others when extreme weather is an issue.

Prayers go out to the tornado victims and families.

"God be with you all".

It was in the mid 40's on Friday and back into the 30's and a bit of snow for the weekend.

Folks weren't so fortunate in the Grand Traverse region of Michigan.

Up to two feet of snow shut everything down (electric, phone, streets, etc.), as a state of emergency was issued.

Winter storms north of here, and severe Thunderstorms with tornadoes south of me.

I would like to say it is transition time between winter and spring, but much of this pattern has occurred all winter long.

The honey do list is put on hold for now.

First, Karen was down for the count for several days (cold and flu).

You can't crack the whip when you're in bed.

Second, one item on the list is to put new flooring in Yolanda's room.

To do that, you must remove everything first.

Everything that was in her room (amazing how much stuff accumulates) is now scattered throughout the house.

The floor guy shows up, tears up the carpet and padding, only to discover some wet spots on the sub-floor and falling apart drywall.

Upon further inspection, sure enough there appears to be a leak around the window and to add insult to injury, Insurance wont cover that.

Yolanda's bed was flush to the wall/window, so we never noticed a thing.

I'm thankful we happened to catch this when we did and not later when there may have been much more damage.

No matter, here we sit in limbo, while we attempt to get a handle on the matter.

I'm not the world's handiest man, and if there isn't enough to do already (yes, I do go slow most of the time).

Until then, Yolanda's mattress and box spring rest on the floor for her to sleep on.

To continue........

Seed starter mix has been purchased, seed trays have moved from the shed to inside the house.

Next step is too sanitize the trays and slowly get to planting on schedules.

More and more Red-winged blackbirds arrive daily.

American robins are growing in numbers and their tweets, chirps and song is filling the air.

Black-capped chickadees, Tufted titmice, Northern cardinals and other birds fill the day with song as well.

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

Canada geese are honking too.

With the beginning of a new month, if you haven't cleaned and sanitized your feeders and water sources, the first part of a new month is always a good time to do this (habit to get in to).

(Pictures throughout this letter show growth of plants in my yard this past week.)

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.


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.

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.

(Agastache with new growth.)

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, pond hockey are 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,

Spring is my favorite time of year.

In Michigan, 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.

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

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 December, January, and February.

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

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

(Butterfly Bush)

Spring is on the Surface.

(Deer chewed Tulip)

In cold regions, you may expect an abundance of of skunks, woodchucks, 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.

This means the armadillos have been more active where some winters they may stay hunkered in for several days to avoid the cold.

Their dilemma becomes this............

Stay where it is warmer and starve to death or go out in the cold and freeze to death.

Their hasn't been this problem this year.

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.

(Typical mole mound pictured.)

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.

(Rudbeckia 'Indian summer' popping though the leaf mulch.)

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.

Also pictured is the foliage from a Butterfly bush (Buddleja) and my Hyssop (Agasache 'Cana').

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.

God is seldom further from you then when your heart is filled with fear.

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

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

Gardening For Wildlife.

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