Ground Hog Day

The potager on Ground Hog Day.

Of course, the first sunshine in a fifteen day span arrived on February 2nd, Ground Hog Day which old lore tells us means six more weeks of winter, rather than a much hoped-for early spring. I decided to dig back into my journals for the past three years and found that all three Ground Hog Days were sunny, often the only sunny day in a week or more, as was the case this year. Of the three, one was what I’d call “normal,” with the last frost on May 8 (our average is supposed to be May 10). 2018 had a final frost early, on April 28 and we had an early spring. In 2019, the final frost happened very early, on March 30, but we had cooler than normal temps after that and so much rain many of the farmers could not plant until mid June! So much for the predictability accuracy of the Ground Hog. Personally, I think it’s just a good day to eat sausage (ground hog…..)

Sheet composting.

I took advantage of the sunshine and 50 degree temps to finally get outdoors, even though the wind did not make it entirely pleasurable. First, the two buckets of kitchen waste that had been waiting in the garage went to the potager, where in the raised beds it was dry enough to shovel a trench. I’d been waiting for a day when the soil was no longer frozen for just this task. It is generally called “sheet composting” although since it actually occurs in a trench, shouldn’t it be called “trench composting”? I’m sure the earthworms will be delighted with a new buffet of goodies, and by planting time it should be disintegrated into nice soil.

Next, all the broccoli and kale stalks that were no longer alive were removed, along with the flower stalks in the pathway containers that had not been trimmed before. I found six lovely carrots that were somehow missed in the final digging, and was surprised that they were not turned to mush; after all we’d had single digit temperatures this winter, but maybe not for so long a period that they froze solid in the ground.

The next task for a nice day is to begin wheelbarrowing compost from the bins to top off the beds before planting. That will be a big job, best done in stages, for these old bones that have been lazy all winter. There are still lots of dead leaves and stalks in the potager’s interior border, but I’m leaving them to protect the perennials that are snug below. All the annuals have been trimmed, and seeds of nigella and poppies scattered. I was surprised to see that many of the snapdragons are still showing life at their bases, so I didn’t trim those, hoping that their sagging branches will help protect them from any more bad weather. There are colder temps and more snow in our immediate forecast.

Signs of spring!

After cleaning the shovel and buckets, I returned to the house (with wind-burned cheeks!) via the potager’s exterior borders and the Deck Garden and spotted these tips of crocus emerging. That made my heart glad.

A surprise under the elder!

And this tiny 1″ of daffodil tip was found under the elder, fairly close to the blacktop where temps might be a tad warmer. Those are my first two indications that spring may eventually creep in to our part of Indiana. Hopefully it will be slow and sure, with no setbacks. So, today is the day…I’m seeding flats in the basement! The 2020 season is underway!


About carolee

A former professional herb and lavender grower, now just growing for joy in my new potager. When I'm not in the garden, I'm in the kitchen, writing, or traveling to great gardens.
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3 Responses to Ground Hog Day

  1. Kit Miracle says:

    Your entries are always so helpful and full of information. We have a mulch pile but I’ve never tried sheet mulching. However, we have planted cover crops many times, to be turned under in the spring. Down here in Southern Indiana, I have tulips up a couple of inches, and daffodils, too. I remember painting daffodils with snow on them in February. Buds on some of the bushes but I haven’t checked the crocuses. Actually, I let the kids plant them years ago so they’re likely to pop up anywhere.

    Thanks again, Carolee!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. carolee says:

    I once grew cover crops, but turning them under is too hard for me now. We had freezing rain and snow last night, so my enthusiasm has already waned a bit. Thanks for reading!


  3. I hadn’t heard of sheet composting before – sure would save on the hassle of digging the compost out of my food tumbler! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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