Friday, May 28, 2010

Lone Survivor

Being the optimist that I am, I was a bit aggressive in planting my garden and flowers this spring. Last year, after finishing our off-the-grid cabin here in the mountains, I didn't plant until the "guaranteed" last frost date of June 5th. Which by the way, is not really a guarantee, since in 2007 the temperature dropped to 13 degrees here in the valley? Waiting until June 5th to plant seeds here in the mountains is only a guarantee of not producing anything. The only thing I got were some very green tomatoes the night before our first frost on the 17th of September.

With some advice from my sister, still living below the Mason-Dixon line, I decided I would construct a cold frame so I could get an early start on planting. At our altitude of 8600’, the sun can cook plants in a cold frame even when the temperature is below freezing. So, my first victims were seedlings cooked to a crisp. Not exactly what I was expecting from a cold frame.

Determined that I could resurrect my southern gardening heritage, I decided to plant after what I thought was the last snow of the year of April. As it turned out, it was not even close to the last snow or the last freeze. No, we had about three more snows in April and one in early May. Then the temperature continued to stay below freezing at night up through about the 18th of May. Needless to say, several plants suffered my ignorance, but that is only part of the story. You see when you build on top of a mountain between two mountain ranges with peaks exceeding 14,000’, the views are breath-taking, but the wind is a bit gusty. Yea, it is down right blustery. In addition to beating several replacement plants from the frost into rags, we also lost a pinion pine that was well over 100 years old. Some of the old timers here in the valley said the wind gusts were over 100 mph and many lost sheds, barns, roofs, and their sense of humor.

Once again, a trip into town to purchase some replacement plants for the wind this time. I found new confidence in the fact that the overnight temperature was staying in the low forties. At last I would be able to get those plants into the ground in time to produce fruit, flowers, and vegetables this summer. Have I mentioned how much I hate deer? As my wife’s former hairdresser once said, “I am way past the Bambi stage”. Like her, I long to see deer carcasses hung on my fence. Deer love flowers and gardens in general. Years ago, on our farm in Louisiana, I knew that. Those memories were suppressed under layers of sophistication necessary to ensure I would always buy my produce in well-lit and well-stocked supermarkets. The tune “Green Acres” comes to mind.

Today is May 28, 2010 and I am very proud to post a picture of the only surviving plant on top of Mt. JAG. Of course, I purchased this poppy plant with a bloom to ensure that I could post some evidence of my southern gardening heritage. More later on this adventure in the mountains, but I must leave now to have my tractor blade repaired after running down hill into a boulder.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely photo and post. I, and all the other hobby gardeners, sympathize.

    Why do we poor gardeners toil so hard and battle the capricious spring weather? Terri Guillemets said: "If you've never been thrilled to the very edges of your soul by a flower in spring bloom, maybe your soul has never been in bloom."

    I guess we've all been thrilled to our soul by spring flowers and summer vegetables.

    Good luck!