Wacky Winter Weeding

– Posted in: Garden chores, Weather

image of twigs edged with frost
Is there anyone in North America not having an atypical winter? These twigs were photographed by Justin in January. After I took the photos for the preceding post the first Saturday in February, I was able to spend a good two hours weeding before being chased inside by rain. For those of you who live in warmer climes and may not understand the significance of this, normally in February the ground is frozen solid. Attempting to pull weeds is usually akin to pulling plants out of stone, assuming the leaves themselves aren’t frozen to the earth, and your gloves provide enough dexterity to grasp the plant while still keeping warmth in your fingers. And rain? In February? Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! Surely you jest.

But not only was the ground thawed to the depth of the roots, but it wasn’t even that cold. I weeded all that time without my fingers getting numb. While I couldn’t figure out whether I was catching up on last autumn’s chores or getting a head start on spring’s, I was delighted to take advantage of the situation, though it somehow felt like cheating.

Normally the thaw starts in the second half of March, and continues, in fits and starts, through April. Throughout New England this period is referred to as mud season, because the thaw starts from the top and works down, and surface soil, saturated from snowmelt and rain, cannot drain because the deeper soil is still frozen. But do the northern prairie states and provinces have mud season, or is some other phenomenon at work there? Can anyone from the Midwest answer this for me?

All good things must come to an end, and we now are “enjoying” more typical February weather, with the high temp today in the 20sF and lows in the low teens. The ground is once again unyielding under my feet, and weeding once again becomes a highly unlikely afternoon activity. Join me in a cup of tea?

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

Now, the digging and dividing of perennials, the general autumn cleanup and the planting of spring bulbs are all an act of faith. One carries on before the altar of delayed gratification, until the ground freezes and you can’t do any more other than refill the bird feeder and gaze through the window, waiting for the snow. . . . Meanwhile, it helps to think of yourself as a pear tree or a tulip. You will blossom spectacularly in the spring, but only after the required period of chilling.

~Adrian Higgins in The Washington Post, November 6, 2013

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