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For most of January and early February the weather was amazing, pushing into the mid-70’s during the day, and convincing both us, and the garden, that we were in for an early spring.  This week though it’s wet, and everything here is mud and puddles.  According to our weather station this current storm has already dumped 5.6 inches of rain, and there’s more on the way.

Our Dutch Master daffodils that started blooming just over a week ago are now looking rather sad.

 

Our Dutch Master daffodils have been knocked to the ground in this week's storm

However, our dry spell was too dry for this early in the season, and we’d even had to resort to watering a few things, especially our new fruit trees, so we’re grateful for the rain, and so is the garden.  In between this storm’s deluges I went out to check on how things were doing.

In the vegetable garden the beets are still brimming.

 

The 'Red Ace' beets have been going strong all winter

The new foliage on the red beets is beautiful, but this variety (Red Ace) will be replaced with Bull’s Blood this spring, so our beet ‘greens’ will be an even more vibrant burgundy red.

 

The new foliage on the beets is a beautiful red

The rhubarb we planted this winter is really starting to take off, and I can’t wait for that first strawberry-rhubarb pie.

 

Rhubarb 'Victoria'

Speaking of strawberries.

 

Some of the strawberries are blooming

The Tatsoi we planted in late fall is still going strong, but the recent warm weather confused it, and much of it is now starting to bolt, so this crop will soon be replaced with a fresh spring crop.

 

Overwintered Tatsoi is prone to bolting once the weather warms, so a fresh crop will be planted

The Pak Choi was similarly affected by the heat, but despite freezing numerous times, both of these greens have been great throughout winter.  Stir-fry anyone?

 

Some of the Pak Choi is starting to bolt too, but it's performed well all winter

Completely unaffected by freezing, or persistent winter heatwaves, the Red Russian winter kale is again performing phenomenally this winter.

 

The Red Russian kale is tough and reliable, and tasty too!

The Lacinato kale has been doing reasonably well too.

 

The rain beads beautifully on the Lacinato kale

We’ll try to sneak in a spring crop of both types of kale before the weather gets too warm.

The red-veined sorrel hasn’t quit all winter, which will no doubt please the hens as they love to sneak in a nibble as they wander by the garden.

 

This sorrel was infested with aphids last summer, but has been beautiful all winter long

The last of our hybrid Blue Wind broccoli is heading up. The next broccoli crop will be the heirloom Calabrese.

 

Broccoli 'Blue Wind' is being replaced with the heirloom 'Calabrese' this year

Despite an outbreak of vandalous voles this winter (more on that in a moment), the French Breakfast radishes are hanging in there.

 

The radishes survived the onslaught of voles, the shelling and snow peas weren't so lucky

The peas, both the shelling peas ‘Progress #9’, and the snow peas ‘Oregon Sugar Pod II’…not so lucky.  In fact, the voles completely wiped out a total of 200 (yes TWO HUNDRED) seedling pea plants.  There will be some vole abatement implemented in the gardens shortly.  Suddenly our gophers don’t look bad.

In the herb garden, we weren’t sure the sage would recover from the frost this winter, but it’s bounced back.

 

New growth on the sage

Throughout the gardens, both varieties of rosemary we have planted are blooming, delighting the bees on the warmer sunnier days.

 

If I was a bee, I'd love this flower too

We’d planted this upright rosemary last year.  Then last summer, feeling frugal, I divided a $20 flat of prostrate rosemary into 40 separate plants, and grew them to a 1 gallon container size myself. This winter we planted them all out on the upper slope of the orchard, both to help stabilize the soil, and to give our Mason Bees a dependable source of winter nectar.

 

The young prostrate rosemary plants are really taking off

I’m amazed at how well these young plants are blooming already, and can’t wait to see them fill in.

Speaking of blooms, I’m especially excited about our native Ribes sanguineum planted behind the raised vegetable beds.  I almost killed this plant while it was sitting in a pot a little too long waiting to be transplanted.  Last year it didn’t do much at all, but this winter it’s blooming for the first time!

 

Our native Ribes sangineum is blooming despite a few early setbacks

Our other native Ribes, Ribes viburnifolium, has settled in too.  Clearly happy beneath some oaks it is blooming its heart out this winter.

 

The native Ribes viburnifolium is blooming up a storm

This ribes species sets rootlets along its branches in wet weather where the branches touch the ground, so taking cuttings this spring should be easy.

Our young Meyer lemon tree surprised us with a decent crop this year.

 

This year we need to focus on keeping scale and ants at bay on this tree

Our southern highbush blueberries are starting to bloom.

 

Blueberry 'South Moon'

Just in case you thought we were done with voles, they’re running amok in the orchard too.  This is why we fitted every fruit tree with gopher and vole guards when we planted them.

 

I caught this vole popping out of a hole right under the gopher guard around the Golden Delicious apple (click image to enlarge)

There’s more in the orchard than ravenous rodents though.  By early February the fruit trees were convinced that spring had arrived.  The  Flavor Delight aprium was the first to bloom, and has since been followed by the plums, like this Satsuma…

 

Satsuma Plum

…and even last year’s favorite with the deer, the Frost peach, is blooming!

 

The deer almost killed this tree this last spring, so we're relieved that it's survived winter

Although I sowed them late, our native wildflower seeds are grateful that the rainy season isn’t over yet.  Our California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) are pushing all over the orchard.

 

The California poppies have sprouted, but it's a constant battle to stop the weeds from smothering them

The Goldfields (Lasthenia glabrata) are sprouting everywhere too.

 

The Goldfields germinated much better than expected...note to self, sow more thinly next time

Hopefully, if they don’t all get washed down the slope, we’ll have some lovely spring blooms in store for us by mid-spring.

When these storms finally stop, all this extra water will no doubt push a second flush weeds amidst the wildflowers, so we’ll be busy keeping those down this spring while the wildflowers establish themselves.

With our changeable weather, there’s not much food growing here at the moment.  Trapped inside during the rainy weather though, we’ve been busy organizing for spring, and now have lots of seed trays full of this season’s promise, and hopefully it won’t be long before the gardens are brimming.  There are only 30 days left until the official start of spring!