Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Life

March 21, 2014

DIRT ON GARDENING: Spring ‘lamb’ still a few weeks out for gardeners

What is your take on the infamous saying, “In like a lion, out like a lamb?”

I for one wouldn’t be at all disappointed if this was the scenario in the coming weeks. I’d venture a guess nobody would be. This winter has been grueling and troublesome to say the least, and may very well wreak havoc with our planting season.

Delays, caused by existing snow cover that acts as an insulator to the soil and prevents frost lines (which are deeper than normal this year) from thawing, will be felt by all, especially farmers who count on early tilling and planting opportunities.

What happens is that with the deep frost line, soil will remain untillable because drainage into the subsoil won’t occur. Not only will the “ball-to-crumble” stage be later than normal, but heavy equipment will mire into wet surface soils that refuse to drain. Even with weather in the 60s, it takes time to thaw soil that is frozen in some places to a depth of more than 3 feet.

The fact remains none of us know for sure, not even the weather experts who have all the past, present and future data at their fingertips. If it was that easy, we’d all be making the “big bucks.”

Let’s think positive and have faith the out-like-a-lamb scenario happens. It would be a mood changer for us all, even if tilling and planting might be a couple weeks later than usual. Hopefully. we’ve seen the last of the heavy snows and it’s all uphill from here. Still, I’ve seen heavy snows even in April. If the soil surface heats up from a regular dose of direct sunlight, subsoils may thaw quicker than expected and everything can be back on track or at least closer to normal (we can only hope.) Hopefully this isn’t a trend in future weather patterns and only an anomaly.

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