Desperate Gardening (in the Snow)

I haven’t made as much progress toward my fall gardening goals as I had hoped to (more on that in an upcoming post…), with the weather being a major contributor. October felt rough, and it wasn’t just me—by some objective measures, our October was the gloomiest on record. Who knew that was a thing?

Just another gloomy fall day at the lake.

November hasn’t been any easier, with substantial snow and cold coming in during the first week of the month and sticking around.

All this gloom and grey meant that I didn’t plant garlic like I’d hoped to. In mid-October, I managed to plant an area about 3″ by 24″ one evening when the weather cooperated (i.e., it was sprinkling but not actually raining). But that was it… until this past weekend.

In a fit of desperation, I managed to plant three of my raised garden beds, effectively doubling the area that I had planted in garlic. This was a huge relief because I won’t have much time to tend this particular garden next year (teaser: I’m starting a brand-new, bigger veggie garden in the spring!) and so I want to plant the area to as many low-maintenance plants as possible. Come next summer, this veggie garden will be almost exclusively planted with garlic and green beans.

This is what planting garlic in November looked like:

A rainy day meant that much of the snow had already melted.
So I only had to rake an inch or two of snow to expose the soil.

It wasn’t nearly as cold and miserable outside as I thought it would be. And the soil was actually in good condition—moist but not too wet to work in. These beds had been planted with green beans this past summer, and I left them to die back in place. By the time I returned in November, the plants had completely died back and I was able to plant directly into the ground without any site prep.

Perhaps I’ll call this method snow-till! (Instead of no-till… get it?!?! 🙂 )

I still need to mulch these beds soon, but I’m cautiously optimistic that I’ll be able to get a reasonable amount of garlic next year. Certainly more than if I hadn’t done this second round of planting.


Snow, Snow, Go Away (Cabin Fever)

The sky turned white and it snowed (sideways) for 36 hours this weekend.

Our Easter Sunday drive. Not a pretty picture!

With the return of feels-like-January weather, I can feel that I have a severe case of cabin fever (it’s a real thing).

cab·in fe·ver
noun (informal)
irritability, listlessness, and similar symptoms resulting from long confinement or isolation indoors during the winter.

Yes, that’s what I feel—listlessness. A complete lack of interest in doing anything. I have no energy to engage in any of my usual modes of entertainment: reading, going outside, garden planning, conversing with others. Instead, I have spent a substantial amount of time napping and doing essentially nothing.

This afternoon the sun came out and we did go for a short ski, but didn’t stay out too long on account of strong winds.

Skiing on our property. In April.

In retrospect, I wish we’d have bundled up better, taken the snowshoes, and spent more time outside.

Last week I was in Massachusetts, where the weather was comparatively more spring-like. I made a quick trip to a nature area that I’d been to last year, also in late March. There was no snow, open water, and ducks and geese. I cannot tell you how happy I was to hear the familiar quacks of a mallards and to see waterfowl swimming through flooded forest.

Along the trail at the Arcadia nature preserve in Massachusetts. I was also here last year at the same time of year.

It will be another month before we have ducks floating through our flooded woods, and today the wait feels like forever!

Do you get cabin fever?

My New Thanksgiving Tradition

My new Thanksgiving tradition is to go for a run. Not a formal Turkey Trot like many towns have, just an average solo run from my house, down the road, and back.

My first Thanksgiving run was two years ago. That year, the first snow dropped about two feet of fluffy snow in a single day right before the beginning of the gun deer season. Cold temperatures and deep snow meant that some hunters were stranded in their deer camps, while others couldn’t get get to theirs. On Thanksgiving day, it was cold, maybe only 15 degrees out. I bundled up and went for a three mile run, excited to be outside and have the day off. The roads are quiet on Thanksgiving, and so I probably only saw a car or two. Near the end of my run, a man was driving his four-wheeler in the opposite direction. We were both bundled up and looked cold. I was enjoying my run and felt that of the two of us I had the better deal, but he may have thought otherwise.

I don’t remember last year’s run, except that I did run and that I remember thinking how different the conditions where from the previous year. We had a mild fall last year, and it was only on the evening of Thanksgiving that the weather switched and our first snow started.

This year, the conditions were somewhere in between those two years. Our first snow came about a week ago, and a few inches of sloppy, slushy snow fell last night. Getting ready to run, I put on wool socks and prepared to have cold, wet feet the entire time. But I was lucky and the snow on the road had melted enough that I didn’t need to run through much slush. It was almost entirely quiet out on the road, mostly just the sound of my steps and my breathing. In covering 4 miles, I encountered only two trucks. The highlight was watching a crow (or a raven; I still can’t tell the difference) fly from tree top to tree top and listening to the sound of its wings. There were some chickadees too, and a few screams from my neighbors’ kids playing in the woods back behind their house. But other than that, it was very quiet. Just me and the woods and my thoughts.

While I ran, I listed off some of the things I’m grateful for: the health of my friends and family; that I have such wonderful friends and family; that I can run 4 easy miles without much effort; that my feet weren’t sopping wet. I thought a little about what I want to do better next year, too. But mostly I just ran and didn’t think too hard.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Project Get Out: Week 8

Project Get Out is my personal challenge to spend at least a half hour a day outside for the fall. Because even though I work in natural resources and write about the outdoors, I don’t get out nearly enough.

This project was supposed to be my fall challenge to get outside more, but when I look out there, it’s already winter.

Monday: Another inside day, aka a fail. The days are just too short. If I don’t get home early, there’s no time to get outside while it’s still daylight. We’re now down to just over 9 hours of daylight: 8 am until a little after 5 pm. It’s tough to get out during the day. Of course I could go out after dark, but with two recent cougar sightings in the UP, I have another excuse to stay inside and watch that damn TV.

Tuesday: Holiday! I was going to spend the day doing some errands in town, but stayed home because we got a snowstorm on Tuesday. By the end of the day, the snow was well over a foot deep and it would have been impossible to get my car out of the driveway. Continue reading “Project Get Out: Week 8”