Has Spring Sprung?
How you choose to define the first day of spring basically depends on whether you follow the astronomical or the meteorological seasons.
The Met Office uses the meteorological seasons, which are based on the annual temperature cycle and the state of the atmosphere, splitting the year into four three-month seasons.
So the meteorological seasons define spring as March, April, May, summer as June, July, August, autumn as September, October, November and winter as December, January, and February.
Therefore, using this system, spring started on March 1 and runs through until May 31.
Astronomically, the vernal equinox marks the time that the sun crosses the Earth’s equator from south to north and is one of only two times in the year when day and night are equal in length. (The vernal equinox doesn’t fall on the same day every year because the length of the calendar year doesn’t quite correspond with that of the solar year).
So if you use the astronomical method, this year spring will take place between March 20 and June 21, and therefore is due to pull into the station next Tuesday. And this year, that feels a lot more likely.
Us gardener’s have all got cold, green and itchy fingers at this time of year. We are desperate to get ‘growing’ and get sowing. Over the years I have experimented with early sowings making the most of clement spring weather and early-season enthusiasm. It has largely been a waste of time and often quite expensive – financially and time wise. Early sowings obviously risk being annihilated by the fickle weather and even seeds like carrot, lettuce and beetroot can germinate in cool soil, they won’t thrive.
There is a saying – “sow carrots too early and you’ll never have to eat carrots.”
In my experience it is wiser to be patient and wait for the ground to warm up and the weather to calm down.
At times like this I always remind myself of the wonderful 92 year old lady in Brynmawr (who has roses in her garden older than I am) saying, “In over 70 years of gardening, I have learnt more about patience, perseverance and optimism than pruning, propagating or plants.”
Gardening is indeed a good teacher of those traits and is also a gamble. I have known great gardeners bring on copious amounts of seeds in their greenhouses to be caught out with a late frost and lose the lot. The thing to remember is that it’s not a competition. And I for one will definitely be waiting for the ground to warm up before sowing anything, other than my first earlies, this year.
And thankfully some things don’t change. My brother cheerfully told me that as you get older three things happen, the first is that your memory goes … and I can’t remember the other two. And as written in his card, “Happy Birthday to an amazing person, oh did I say ‘to’ I meant, ‘from’.”
Get the ‘edge
Last week I planted up an edible hedge for a client, and I have to be honest am very proud of it! There is the probability that the birds will beat her to harvesting a lot of it in due course but that was deemed to be another benefit of actually planting it anyway. I’m looking forward to seeing how it develops and works out. We planted an eclectic mix of raspberries, Japanese wineberries, gooseberries, tayberries, red, black and white currants, and it will be so more productive than the hawthorn hedge that was suggested by another gardener.
To enjoy a fabulous view, this hedge will be kept to around 5’ but if you wanted a higher edible hedge that doubled up to provide privacy and as a windbreak then you could use hazel, elderberry, dog rose (for rosehip syrup), even wild pear (for jams, liqueurs and syrups).
This mix will provide a profusion of flowers in late spring and tasty treats in the autumn – for you and/or the wildlife. Give your garden then edge – plant an edible hedge!