Blackberry Winter: 2012
Laugh if you must, but the facts cannot be denied. Blackberries are in bloom, This week temperatures are predicted to hover near the foliage-killing frost-line. Folk from my hometown of Bryson City, NC know this as “Blackberry Winter.”
Dear ones, it is time to break out the Mickey Mouse sheets, milk-jugs, newspaper and everything else we can find to protect delicate seedlings. ‘Cause you know we planted them when our heart of hearts whispered that it was way too early.
Yes we did.
We couldn’t help ourselves. What was a gardener to do? Temperatures were in the mid 80’s for Pete’s sake! Who has time for annoying indoor spring-cleaning when the garden beckons?
This year, Blackberry Winter threatens more than the vegetable garden. All fruit trees in the Atlanta Metro area have already bloomed. Delicate fruit is at risk. I am praying for the peaches at Grier Orchard in Cornelia, Georgia. It might be a selfish prayer. God knows I adore peaches. He also knows the Grier family feeds a community of folk. I wonder if I should drive up there Wednesday night and offer to hold a blowdrier on the trees to keep them warm?
May flowers such as iris and columbine are in full bloom and tiny flowers are forming on the hydrangea. This week, as nighttime temperatures fall, you will find me draping sheets over the shrubbery. Those “trashy” empty pots my husband abhors will serve a purpose, to protect peonies.
A few months ago, Caldwell Tree Care visited my home for much-needed maintenance. My friend, Rachael Male, suggested I use discarded Crape Myrtle limbs and construct a fence. What a lovely idea. We chatted about this fence, a rustic, romantic creation that (I believed) would spiffy up my current not-so-spiffy-garden. The downside: I needed to complete the task in 24 hours, while the limbs were still pliable.
Y’all know how that turned out.
Instead of a rustic romantic fence around the perimeter of the garden, the end result was a “fence” that is actually something for my Botanical Interests green beans to climb. Today, my previous shortcoming leaves me smiling. All I’ll need here is a couple old sheets and the beans will weather the cold snap without trouble.
My vegetable garden might not be “lovely,” but it serves me well. It is a hodgepodge of stakes, sticks, and recycled home-security signs (which, by the way, make perfect plant markers). Whatever you use this week, find something to cover your tender babies. It might not frost, but then again, it might.
Remember, keep those hands dirty, and please share my blog with a friend.
Renea Winchester is the author of In the Garden with Billy: Lessons about Life, Love & Tomatoes. She is currently writing In the Kitchen with Billy.