I accidentally left a tray of seedlings out last night, in the cold. I wasn't really thinking about what I was doing as I brought my plants inside, and didn't realize that I'd left a whole tray outside. Thankfully, it's the cold-hardy lot. I'd brought in the warm weather plants way earlier, so there was no danger to them. But it's still getting cold enough at night that I didn't want to leave any plants outside for that long yet.
No worries! The first one I saw, one of my squash plants, was looking really wilted but I realized that's because the soil was too dry. I gave it some water (not warm, but not very cold, either, to warm up the roots a little) and it perked up again. The rest of the plants were no worse the wear for their overnight adventure. I still brought them back inside, however, for the day. Hardening off plants is a fairly long process. They need natural light, unfiltered through windows, but the shock of setting them outside too much too quickly can kill them, even in warm weather. I've been setting my trays outside for no more than a few hours at a time.
My warm weather plants (tomatoes, celery, etc.) haven't been outside nearly as much as the cold weather crops. It's not only been chilly, but windy too. Wind can be good for plants, because it makes the roots and stems stronger. But it would mostly be too much for these poor little warm-loving seedlings. So over the weekend I simply opened the door and moved them into the spot that was getting direct, real sunlight. They were totally sheltered from the wind but getting the sunlight they needed. Now that I'm starting to move them outside I'm being careful to keep them in a sunny spot that's still somewhat buffered against the wind. I'll be babying these seedlings long after the cold hardy ones are planted outside--which will be this weekend or early next week, depending on time and tilling. Between family in town and graduation stuff, I might just not have time for it this weekend.
I will possibly try to plant my potatoes tonight, however. I'm going to do a tire tower again, for which project I went "shopping" at the transfer station after taking the dog to the vet last week. (They're in the same direction.) I got two more rimless tires, so it should make a decent-sized stack, probably five tires high. I can't wait to see how many potatoes I get this year!
For the record, once we (finally) get a place of our own and I can set up my garden however I want, I will most likely stop doing the tire tower. At least for food plants. I'll keep the tires and put flowers in them (common around here, and much prettier than you'd expect) and figure out something else to do for potatoes. I am worried about the nasty, toxic chemicals from the tires leaching into the potatoes but at this point I don't grow enough, and we don't eat enough, potatoes to make it the top priority. I'm more concerned about all of the things we're still buying in plastic packaging and how many toxins are leaching into them.
Signs that spring is finally here are everywhere. The birds are out in force, singing and chirping away. They've been driving my cat nuts, sitting there on the fence when he's inside and flying away as soon as I open the door. I woke up to birdsong this morning for what feels like the first time in a long time. Yesterday I saw a hare on my walk to work, half white and half brown, still in the transition from his winter coat to summer.
And the trees are finally starting to bud! Leaves are beginning to pop out all over the place and when I look at the hills there are patches of green starting to appear. I'm guessing that by this time next week it'll be summer here.
Shane managed to call me yesterday. For work, he had to drive all the way back to town to FedEx some water samples to a testing lab, and then drive back. He couldn't see me (FedEx is all the way across town) but once he was back in cell phone reception range he gave me a call. We even got to Skype a little bit last night, with our webcams. (But no mics, I don't have one and Shane was worried about waking up other people around him. The walls are thin, and there are both night and day shift workers so you never know who might be sleeping when.) It was so nice to see him. He looked tired, but he'd worked a 12 hour day and an 11 hour day since getting up there. Whew! Most of his days shouldn't be like that, but they have a limited amount of time in which to train both him and the guy who's in the mirror position. And so far, so good. :) He said the people he's working with "aren't too crazy" (which sounds weird to those out of state, but that actually can be a huge problem up here), the work is about what he was expecting, and the food situation is "awesome". I'm so happy!