Will Spring ever come?

Well that depends who you ask.  The Wildflower Sale team at Lac Lawrann has been planning for months, had fresh compost delivered the other day and is setting up the green houses around the time you are reading this.  The 32nd annual sale will take place for members on Friday May 10 from 3 to 6 PM and for the public on Saturday May 11 from 9 to noon.

The first “potting” date for the volunteers is April 2nd, though the plants will stay in the barn or greenhouse until the sale date draws near.   The old Farmers Almanac says you can put spinach seeds in the ground as early as April 6th this year, just a little over a week from now.  The cold is good for established spinach plants, causing them to produce more sugar, but that’s a topic for another column.  The National Weather Service collects data from county highway departments around the states documenting the average frost depth in the ground.  On March 25, 2019 Washington County reported a frost depth of 8 inches.  So getting your plot ready for that spinach might be a bit challenging for a few more days to say the least.

At this writing, March 26, the ice is still on my pond and Lac Lawrann.  Ice out dates on ponds and lakes can vary greatly here in SE WI.  The severity of the winter, late season cold snaps, ice and snow depth, all play a part.  My phenology records show that on March 17, 2012 night hawks were calling, as were spring peepers along with wood and chorus frogs and the daffodils were in full bloom. Yet, just one year later in 2013, the ice went out on the ponds after April 12th.  Weather and seasonal occurrences can certainly be difficult to predict but the long-term trend is that we’re warming.  According to the USDA planting zone maps, as I wrote about in an earlier post, from 1990 to 2015, virtually all of Wisconsin had an increase of at least one plant hardiness zone.  That means the northern part of the state went from zone 3 to 4, and much of the rest went from zone 4 to 5.  Our location here in southeastern WI increased from 5 to 5 ½, the area that increased the least. 

While all of this doesn’t make the ice melt faster or the ground thaw quicker so we can get into the garden, it is interesting to note the trends and watch for those arbiters of spring that we all look forward to as they change their dates of appearance.  So as you are contemplating your gardening endeavors this spring, keep the Flower Sale dates in mind and in the meantime we’ll hope to see you on the trails.

Paul De Chant