Saturday, April 17, 2010

Waiting for budbreak

We are more than halfway through April already. In the valley, everything has been green long enough to start losing that vivid spring color and is settling into the deeper summer green. Flowers and people in shorts are everywhere.

A couple thousand feet higher - where I live - it's much, much earlier. The weather gurus will not promise that it won't frost until May 21. I remember thinking that was an error the first time I read it. I also remember planting tiny mail-order perennials about this time a few years ago and it snowed that night.

Today we have rain and actual by-god fog. It's been raining since yesterday afternoon and the ground has gone squishy. I tried to check the leafbud progress in the vineyard but I was sinking into mud. I couldn't get near the blackberries and raspberries but there were no signs of life a day or two ago. Nothing has emerged where the hops rhizomes are planted either.

I fret. I fret a lot. When I planted the berries, I said it was a test to see what would grow here and whether fall planting would work. I said that if they didn't make it through the winter, I would just replant in the spring. I said I needed to know and I said it would be OK. I totally lied.

It is not OK. They must live! I have 12 brown and lifeless twigs planted in beautifully amended soil, carefully mulched and newly connected to the drip system. I've lost track of the money spent but the bigger cost was to this aging body. Digging out boulders with a pick is not something I can do much longer, I must admit. In fact, I don't think I could do it again. Little green leaves - is that so much to ask?

But then I have to remind myself that it's early here. The Russian sage and the New Mexico locust have just popped their first leaves out. The daffodils just started. The grass is still dormant and even the weeds are tiny. I think it's February that is known as the "cruelest month". Here, at 6500 feet, it's April.

Photo is the damp (good!) and dormant (sigh) vineyard, berries are beyond, marked with the blue flags.

Update: A few hours after I wrote this, the rain quit and I got out to pull damp mulch away from the berry canes. One of the Heritage raspberries has a little green shoot from the root! Woo-hoo! Also found what I think is an elderberry shoot under the mulch across the yard. At last.

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