Monday, January 7, 2008

January "Thawts"

When the temperature hits 13 degrees celcius (55 degrees fahrenheit) in January, one's thoughts tend to drift to spring. This expanse of sky was snapped on a frigidly cold December day. But that beautiful blue is neverthless a reminder of the milder, kinder weather to come. I'm convinced the annual January thaw is nature's way of telling us northern gardeners to hang in there just a little longer. And a big part of hanging in there is planning ahead.

I have two main gardening goals for this year. First, I am determined to get rid of the pathway running the length of the yard. All that interlocking brick is eating up valuable garden space! Purely selfish I know but I'll justify it by telling myself that greening even the narrowest patch of concrete or pavement will make the world a better place. So there. This photo of the path doesn't really reveal the fatal flaw in its design. A frame of wooden beams holds the interlocking bricks in place. But the beams are not level with either the brick or the lawn. This creates a virtual obstacle course: garden visitors are always stepping down onto the lawn, up onto the path and always over the wooden frame. Enough already!

A barrier free yard is the dream. The interlocking brick should be easy enough to remove. Most of the bricks are quite loose as it is (that's another charming feature of the path: one bad step and say hello to a twisted ankle.) What's underneath is of more concern: an old, poured concrete path. I've peeled back a few bricks here and there to inspect the concrete and it looks solid. A pick-axe might be in order. Or perhaps some professional help. I'll wait until spring to decide how ambitious I'm feeling.

Garden goal number two involves transforming a rarely used parking spot into a raised bed vegetable garden. I have dabbled in vegetables in the past. Last summer proved quite successful with a big crop of beefsteak and cherry tomatoes. Harvesting the crop made me think back to the first (and last) time I planted potatoes. It really was quite the remarkable experience to turn the dirt, find the potatoes, wash and boil or bake them and then sit down to some home-grown cooking. I've been dreaming about potatoes for weeks.

There's lots of room on this weedy, gravelly patch of an eyesore. I imagine it with three narrow beds running north-to-south and overflowing with potatoes, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, squash, onions (lots of onions), and maybe even a melon or two. Once again, depending on how ambitious I'm feeling, I might even dare to try some peppers.

The temperature is expected to soar once again tomorrow. I'd tell myself to keep my ambitions in check but that would take all the fun out of the January thaw.


kate said...

Happy New Year! I wish that it was as warm here as it is there. We are currently at -15c. It was a bit of a shock after -5 to -10c days.

Your thawts are good ones ... uneven paths are irritating. I have a spot like this and need to do something about it. You've spurred me on to do some thinking too!

Soilman said...

Wow. I didn't know a thaw was even possible in January in Canada, Irena. Isn't it supposed to be minus 30 from Nov until March??!

Owin & Irena said...

it hasn't been minus 30 around these parts for a while, soilman.

Environment Canada warned of the coldest canadian winter in 15 years last fall. So far, there have only been a handful of really super brutal days and even those only dropped to about -15 tops. winter in toronto has felt like a really lousy spring for about the last decade. Only two memorable storms to speak of. don't know whether to worry or celebrate.

The thaw is over and the temprature has dipped again...but spring won't be long now.


Ottawa Gardener said...

I'm very excited by your vegetable garden project (that's how gardening obsessed I am. I'm excited about 'your' gardening project... sigh). You could have a respectable veggie patch there!

Connie said...

What would we do in the winter without some gardening goals to ponder? I wish you success with your new projects. I think you will love having a vegetable garden, and you should consider inter-planting with some lovely annuals!

kate said...

Just checking in ... I think it has gotten a bit colder there!