Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Red Flag Day

The National Weather Service in Gray, Maine posted a red flag warning today for our area. The combination of low relative humidity and strong winds has created a very high fire danger. The daffodils are nodding and the crocuses are closed up like champagne flutes, with the dip in temperatures and the cold winds.
One great benefit of these conditions is that the garden is dry. I am expanding the vegetable gardens again this year and the conditions are perfect for such work: cool temperatures, dry soil, and no bugs. Shovelful by shovelful I am converting more of our lawn to longer and wider garden rows. Each spade of dirt exposed a few worms (good) and some grubs (bad). The grub population seems to be down (good) given the few that I dispatched today.

I returned to New Roots Farm this morning for the start of the gardening season. Today I transplanted small tomato, eggplant, and pepper seedlings into bigger cells. It felt good to work the potting soil and lift the delicate seedlings from one growing cell into another. The greenhouse was warm; we stripped down to t-shirts, while cold winds whipped around outside. Farmer Renee thinned and transplanted tiny basil plants. I brought home a bag of the discarded thinned basil to make pesto.

Yesterday seemed like a red flag day too. Kodi and I spent some time at one of our favorite beaver wetlands in Durham. I sat near shore next to a sun-draped giant boulder that was protected from the wind. A group of tree swallows skimmed the water's surface, flying in acrobatic patterns that rivaled any airshow. I heard a kingfisher rattle from a snag in the water, before the wind whisked away its call.

The red flag warning has little bearing on the spring emergence of wild plants. The tussock sedge, Canada mayflower, and blue flag iris are sending up green shoots. For now there is enough moisture in the woods and wetlands. For the gardens we are thinking that rain barrels and soaker hoses will be a must for the 2012 growing season if the current weather trends continue. In the meantime, I have some basil pesto to tend to.

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