While we are all revelling in this incredibly CRAZY warm spring weather or should I say summer-like weather, it has all gardeners and farmers on tenterhooks. Yes Spring officially arrived on March 21 but in Canada it’s certainly more usual to welcome the new season with a howling blizzard! I have a young friend whose mother barely made it to the hospital in time to give birth due to a March 21 blizzard. Even in the kindest of March months, the best we can hope for is no snow and temperatures hovering in the low teens by the end of the month. Come on folks, let’s remember this is Canada!
Farmers are the greatest gamblers out there and this year it seems we have been dealt an interesting hand of cards. Let’s hope that we come up winners! Two year’s ago we had a very early spring followed by a hot and rapid season. I recall harvesting our Cabernet Franc in a short-sleeved tee-shirt in early October. It was a great year for tree fruits and a fabulous vintage. It’s a vintage people are still talking about.
This year differs from 2010 in one major way. Given the hot weather of the past 10 days we are much further ahead in terms of bud development than two years ago. My Magnolia is opening and I have asparagus in the garden that is 2 inches tall…in a garden that I haven’t been able to attend to and… on March 23!! Now that is just too early!
Why the squawking and concern? Well once the juices start flowing in the trees and vines and buds start to swell, they are at their very most vulnerable. A cold, crisp, clear night with frost can damage or kill buds causing anything from sporadic damage to a compete wipe out of a crop. It can happen and has happened in the past, even in a normal spring. Ask any grower who has lived through a killer spring frost and they can tell you it is no fun. Farmers don’t just park their tractors and head off to the cottage or golf course for the summer. Vineyards and orchards still have to be tended, tilled, fertilized etc. There are still a whole heap of bills to pay crop or no crop!
Mother Nature has dealt us an interesting hand. My money is on a fabulous long and hot summer – a Royal Flush! Now off I go to weed that damn garden of mine.
Fingers crossed everyone!