WTH, Mother Nature?

"If you want the weather to change, wait five minutes." - Every person who lives in Wisconsin

Wisconsin is known for unpredictable weather - just ask any Wisconsinite - and the past twelve months have proven the adage over and over.

The day before there was NO SNOW
Since moving to Madison in 1996, I've seen the gamut of weather, from 20 below zero days in winter to 104 degree days in summer. Granted, these represent the extremes, and we don't suffer from them constantly, but it does illustrate the ridiculousness of our seasons. My first few winters were relatively mild, with the majority of the "bad" days being in January and February. Then, one winter it stayed cold and actually snowed in May. I thought my head was going to explode. Summers were no better. My second year in Madison was the hottest summer on record in, like, 110 years or something. Because they are generally mild, few of the houses have air conditioning. I spent a LOT of time in the lake that season.

However, the most unreliable season of them all is spring. As a matter of fact, I can pretty much attest to the fact that we didn't get to have a spring this year at all. Last week, it was 34 degrees at night and my heat was on. Yesterday it was 83. *facepalm*

Which brings me to today's crafty subject - gardening. I have no desire to work in the garden in a sweatshirt and scarf so my garden has been raked out and that's about it. I feel awful about that because all the plant sales have started and I've barely scratched the surface of where to put things! My inside plant tables are overflowing with sprouted herbs and a couple of little perennials that I couldn't resist but I'm days away from being able to actually getting them in the ground. Every sunny day that I sit in my office is a day I could be turning earth, laying compost, and weeding.

In the interim, here are my tips for starting your gardening when it's still too cold to be outside:

1. Start plants from seeds. Usually, I'm all about convenience and would rather go to the home store and buy lovely, established plants. But, if the weather is keeping you from digging in the dirt, you can get a taste of it by sprouting seedlings at home. You can make seed cups from baby food jars or yogurt containers. Once the seeds have sprouted, you can divide them and put them in bigger containers. Watching the new growth really helps get me in the mood for gardening.

2. Start a vermicomposter. It's a worm farm. This is really only a good tip if worms don't freak you out because you keep them in your house. (Just for the record, I've never had one escape.) Worm composters are amazing, fun, and productive. You feed it your food scraps (no protein please!) all winter long and it makes compost and "worm tea" for your spring garden. I could do an entire post just on this topic so, for now, I'll just recommend that you go online and do a little research.

Can O Worms 00300 Composting Bin
Worms live here.
3. Snuggle up with a good garden planning book.  There's nothing more inspiring than seeing what others have accomplished in their gardens. I'm currently intrigued by the concept of "square foot gardening" - which is just a trendy way of saying "raised bed gardening." You can really get a lot of yield in a small space.

As I look out the window at yet another rainy afternoon and realize that my garden time will be delayed at least one more day, I try to remember my gardens of yesteryear and know that, in a few months, I'll be enjoying the fruits of my labor.

- Alex

P.S. It's hailing now. I posted this 10 minutes ago. Seriously. 

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