It is Wednesday, February 8, 2017, and it will be over 50°F. in Brush, Colorado. We are expecting 70°+ on Friday – BUT IT’S FEBRUARY??? This is so not normal. We have started seeds, but I am afraid they may be in for as much of a shock as we are.
Starting long-growers this time of year is nothing new, but my sister is looking at starting a bunch of flowers? She wants to replace all the Iris’s around the pond in the front yard with a multitude of flowers and colors. Great idea, however; starting them right now may not be.
This is the normal pond area this time of year. Last Thursday (2/2/17) we had such a bad ice storm that they shut down over half of the state (schools, businesses, and roads). I tried to approach her on this, but she has spring fever extremely bad! The flowers she is thinking of are of fantastic colors and strange looks, but they must have a “no freeze” time to make it. We are zone 5 (click on the zone 5, and you can locate your growing zone) and are still susceptible to a deep freeze.
We historically put in our onions and potatoes about the middle to end of March. Then we cover them with a very thick layer of straw mulch (this year I am adding chicken wire and my feathery monsters decided that was the best place ever to dig for bugs, and dug up everything I put in – grrr!). They will last through most any freeze here.
One of the best things I have always loved about Colorado is our weather, however; a couple of years ago, was a real freaker. It was 90° on Friday, then less than 30° and snowing on Monday. We had planted our corn in mid-April – normal – but lost it all to the wicked, weird weather. This warm in February worries me a lot.
I love the strange and abby-normal things, but not when it comes to my food sources. We grow our own and rely on the seasons to determine when to start what. Yes, we are lucky to have a Godzilla-size greenhouse, but we do not keep it heated throughout. We usually let the weather (the sun mainly, but even on a cloudy day it can get over 70° in there easy) manage most of it. We keep a single electric heater on the west side for the herbs and ever-bearing strawberries. The heater only maintains those two rows. There are four other rows for seasonal things.
(This was before we filled it. You can see the very first plot on the far right side – that is our “east” side of the greenhouse. The ladder in the center is 6′ tall, the edges (where the plot and the dog are) are 3′ underground. From the outside it looks like you could easily reach the top – not – it’s about 20′ up.)
We are looking at cabbages, spinach, carrots, broccoli and other “cold weather” crops this time of year. But if that greenhouse gets over 70° for more than half a day, we could lose those in a heartbeat. We have a swamp cooler that covers the whole north end for the hot summer days, but it is in storage right now.
We also hope to build a “starter area” in the southeast corner this summer. Right now, all the starts are done in the house and the porch. It is enclosed and attached to the house, but no heat vent to it – just small space heater to keep it over 50°, and a HUGE south facing window that warms it up to over 80° when the sun is out. These wild changes in weather have us worried about what may happen in the greenhouse starter area?
I have a lot of family in the upper Midwest area (MI, WI, OH) and I watch what their weather is doing also. They started out with a mild winter then –BAM – getting nailed with tons of snow and freezing storms. Their storms have been so bad that they have gone without power for short periods of time. One other reason to fear to start seeds now. If we cannot keep the heat consistently above a certain temp, they won’t germinate and grow.
The other great thing about Colorado and weather is that when the sun shines here, even as low as 20 degrees, it will make it warm enough to melt the ice. Place that sun in a huge window or greenhouse, and you have instant warmth. As I said earlier, even on a cloudy day, we can be warm. It is the fluctuations that are freaking me out. The abby-normal warm temperatures are no help either.