Freesias' first blooms
Phlomis purpurea on left, Phlomis fruticosa on right.
What crazy weather, huh? Tons of rain in November and December – totaling our “normal” annual amount of 11 inches. Then no rain at all, not even a dribble, during all of January and February, which are usually our rainiest months. Indeed, not only no rain, but into-the-90-degree temperatures which made us all (including the plants) think that Spring had sprung and resulted in some fruit trees blossoming and lettuce bolting (going to seed). But no, that weather didn’t stick either, and now we’re back to Winter temperatures of 40s at night and merely 60s during daytime. At least for last week and this week. We can’t tell what’s coming next, and the garden’s trees and plants just mellow along with whatever is happening at each moment.
A walk through my garden an hour ago – see the photos -- revealed that not only is nobody suffering -- quite the opposite – everyone is robustly growing, probably in part to the brief torrent of rain we got yesterday evening that sank well into the plants’ rootzones. And the coolness that they’ve gotten used to both in the air (despite that week’s hot spell we had) and in the soil (which probably stayed cold through that hot spell).
And now, as I post this, it's raining again. Yay!
An added bonus is that so many of my succulents are blooming their heads off. I’m glad that over the years I have inadvertently chosen succulents that color up and bloom and multiply at different times of the year – some with winter’s cold and low sun, and others with summer’s heat and brilliant sun. So something’s always looking good.
At the beginning of our cool season in November and December, we were justifiably concerned with air temperatures dipping into the 40s and 30s because of the potential damage to our tree and plant foliage since they hadn’t yet acclimated to the coolness. But, by this time of year, even with that hot spell seemingly disrupting their dormancy, most plants are doing just fine because they’re used to the lower temperatures so aren’t shocked by the even-lower temperatures. And, the rain did help remind the plants that they should continue growing well.
This should be YOUR reminder to make sure that plants – especially those in containers – should be kept watered sufficient to keep the soil or potting mix moist so that roots are kept hydrated. Not wet, since plants do grow so much more slowly during low temperatures and in many cases – like deciduous fruit trees -- are dormant or close to it so you don’t want to literally drown them.
Still Time for Growing Peas
If you’ve not grown edible peas before, you still have through the end of April to get seeds into the soil, although earlier sowing will produce a larger harvest. Peas, I think, are the cool-season version of must-grow plants like tomatoes are for the warm season. The flavor and crunch of munching the just-picked raw pea is beyond delicious delight. And I think this is the case perhaps especially if you don’t like cooked peas. There’s just no similarity. Even purchasing them at the grocery store means they’re at least several days old.
If you’ll be planting peas soon, I suggest that you purchase the Wando variety because it is more heat-tolerant than other varieties, since the plants will be developing as the weather warms.
I grow three different types:
For more timely tasks, see March.
For major topics from previous blogs, see seasonal listings on Homepage.