Sunday, May 5, 2013

Uh, scratch that . . . breakup starts this week

Well, I know I said breakup was starting a few weeks ago, but it appears Mother Nature had other plans.  The last five days brought us 13 inches of snow here at the farm and 19 inches still blanket the bramblery. Last Sunday, we dropped to just 9F (but that was balmy compared to -2F in town).  Now it looks like we might hit the mid 50's by the end of this week (they said that before!).
  On to other news.  One blackberry bush is poking its head through the snow - a sign that the voles didn't get everything . . . or that one is dead (they don't like dead things: picky, picky, picky).  I have many new varieties of blackberries and raspberries in my house (and a neighbor's) that will be going into the bramblery as soon as the ground thaws.
  We will be adding an additional 1200 peony roots to our collection this summer.  Lots of work still needs to be done to prepare the land and I am still debating the merits of terracing my lot.  Terracing definitely would reduce erosion, but it makes maintenance on an already steep slope more difficult.  We are mulling over several potential designs looking for ease of maintenance, added heat capacity, and earlier snowmelt.  It was interesting today at our local peony growers meeting when someone raised the question of whether to mulch (in the winter) to protect the roots from the cold.  With the potential for sub-zero weather prior to the development of the winter snowpack and after it melts in the spring, there is concern that the eyes on the roots will freeze and die.  Not much of a problem so far here on the farm.  We have managed to overwinter peonies in pots, although there are definitely some trials going on as we speak with Itoh peonies planted in pots last summer.  Only time will tell how different things are here on the farm from other locations in interior Alaska.  I did find out that a peony farm at a similar elevation northeast of town is not having as much luck.  Their roots are establishing rather slowly and the plants don't bloom until August (about a month late).
  With the late start to breakup, we are expecting a longer than usual breakup period.  We have postponed our usual "Spring" plant sale until early June, unless the road dries out before that.  Either way, our seedlings won't be ready any time soon, since most have yet to be planted!  With the abundance of Rubus foliage already vying for window space, there is no place to put seedlings once they sprout.
  I will leave you with the latest photo of the bramblery taken yesterday.

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