Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Spring turns to summer

We're having a deliriously splendid spring here in Ottawa - I've never experienced anything like it since I moved here in 1984. The winter was quite mild, not too much snow, and the warm weather started quite early back in April. But within the last week, we've gone from spring to summer, and we haven't even reached the Victoria Day weekend yet - that's our "official" last frost date, but we're 2-3 weeks ahead of schedule as far as gardening weather goes.

We planted corn out in the New Garden this weekend, and I actually had to turn the sprinkler on to water the garden afterwards; it was so dry, it was like those old movies we used to see in school about farmers during the Depression trying to plant seeds in hot, crumbly dust. The first potatoes I planted a few weeks ago are up and already about 4" high, and the later plantings are breaking through the soil right now. The one thing that might suffer from the sun and high temperatures (it's 24 today, and it's going up to 30 next week!) will be the peas: they like cool weather, and it just didn't last long enough for the plants to grow up, so we'll have to see what happens to them. It's a fair tradeoff, though, if the hot weather benefits the other vegetables. Maybe this year we'll get tomatoes with a decent flavour - it's been 3 years of cool summers, with watery, tasteless tomatoes as a result.

The raspberries taste better too when it's good and hot. Our early variety are doing great, with flowers about to open all over the canes. I finally lost patience with the damaged black currant bush; I gave it several years to recover, but it just wouldn't produce fruit. Last year I bought a new one and planted it beside the old one - they say that planting different varieties together can improve yield. Well, this year the entire old bush produced fewer berries than just ONE branch of the new bush! I put the axe to the root, and down it came. Then I replaced it with two more new bushes; with luck all 3 will grow well and we might even get enough to make a small amount of jam this year. The red and pink currants are so overloaded with green berries you can hardly see the leaves through them. I'll have to put the netting over them when they get bigger and closer to ripening.

The one problem is one of the new black currants has got bugs - first I saw whiteflies, but was able to take care of them with insecticidal soap. But I spotted small worms and today I see that they've come back - I think they're sawfly larvae! This is a problem that usually assails gooseberries, but the two plants look rather similar and at the nursery they were stocked side-by-side, so I think the bugs were imported from the nursery. I discovered a small amount of malathion in a bottle in the garage, so this evening I'll go out and spray them to get rid of the pests.

The lilac is in full swing (once again, several weeks ahead of schedule) and so are the lilies of the valley. I think the earliest rose bush - Double Blanc de Coubert - will have flowers open in another week. Everything else is doing great - hostas, clementines, daylilies. It's almost getting to the "too good to be true" level. Is some disaster lurking that will ruin everything? I'm starting to feel like the Englishman in Beyond the Fringe's "The Aftermyth of War" - the guy who spent the whole war out in the garden.
I’ll always remember the day that war was declared. I was out in the garden at the time, planting some chrysanths. It was a grand year for chrysanths—1939. I wish we could have another one like it.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Robbo said...

Uh, oh, sounds like global warming to me!

1:58 pm  
Blogger Dr. Mabuse said...

No, no, we need to have at least 3 warm winters and summers to balance out the horrible cold temperatures of the past few years. And by the time that happens, we'll be growing oranges in the Ottawa Valley!

2:13 pm  

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