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Monday, February 02, 2009

Happy Groundhog Day at May Dreams Gardens

It seems we gardeners share more than a passing interest in the meteorologists’ holiday, Groundhog Day. We all want spring to arrive sooner rather than later, and if we can predict when it will arrive, so much the better.

Under normal circumstances, the weathermen use sophisticated equipment to gather all kinds of data about barometric pressures, temperatures, wind directions, rainfall, and who knows what to try to accurately predict the weather.

Their accuracy seems to vary, of course, and rarely do their forecasts and actual weather outcomes please everyone, or anyone.

But we really want the weathermen to be right when it comes to predicting when spring will arrive. They want to be right, too, I assume, and so dispense with all the fancy stuff and instead use a large groundhog, a type of rodent known as a marmot, to help with that prediction.

We all learned in school how this works. If the groundhog sees its shadow on February 2nd, it presumably will get scared and go back into hiding for six weeks, until spring. If it doesn’t see its shadow, it will stay out and that means an early spring.

As I noted last year on Groundhog Day, here in my zone 5 garden, a groundhog in Pennsylvania seeing its shadow while surrounded by legions of weatherman dressed in tuxes and top hats seems to be a poor predictor of when spring will arrive.

I can suggest other animals that are much better predictors of when spring will arrive in my garden.

If the winter warren dwellers, also known as rabbits, come out from hiding and eat the emerging henbit that seems to sprout all over the garden at the first sign of warmth, I
predict spring will arrive around mid-March, at which time I’ll plant peas.

If the birds eat all the seed out of the feeder in just a few days time, it means that spring will arrive around mid-March, at which time I’ll plant peas.

If a dead rodent of some kind, possibly a vole, maybe a mole, shows up at the top of the drive after I’ve just used a snow blower to remove a foot of snow from it, it means the rodent unfortunately didn’t make it until spring. That’s a shame because it only had about six more weeks to wait until spring arrives in mid-March, at which time I’ll plant peas.

As you can see, I am pretty confident that spring will arrive in my garden in mid-March, at which time I'll plant peas.

And I feel certain that before then, I’ll see rabbits eating henbit and have to fill the bird feeders every few days to feed the birds. I also did, indeed, find a dead rodent of some kind on my driveway after clearing off the snow the other day.

For those interested, my apologies for not posting a picture of the dead rodent. I do have a picture of it, but I also have a long standing policy of not posting pictures of dead rodents on my blog. But, yes, if enough people request the picture, I can ignore that policy and add it at a later time.

And now let me just say…

Happy Groundhog Day to all. May every day bring you the happiness of an early spring day in your garden, at which time you'll plant peas.

19 comments:

Gardeness said...

I enjoyed this post, despite the rodent's death. I'm so dying to start planting. It's time to break out the egg cartons and start my indoor garden!

Diana said...

Carol - Happy Groundhog Day. Can't wait to hear about the planting of peas, in mid-March. I'm fine with not seeing the dead rodent, thanks ;-)

mr_subjunctive said...

I'm curious about the circumstances leading to the no-dead-rodents policy. How often does that decision have to be made, exactly?

Lisa at Greenbow said...

You are quite the prognosticator because spring always arrives here around mid March. Happy Groundhog day to you too.

Dee/reddirtramblings said...

I'll be out in the garden at the end of February planting spinach and lettuce. Prolly won't plant peas. However, dead rodents can be imagined without photo aids just find. Happy Groundhog Day, Carol.~~Dee

Darla said...

Happy Groundhog Day to you too! Something tells me that you will be planting peas in mid-march regardless of what anyone else says! LOL

Rose said...

Carol, I like all your methods of prognostication! They seem much more scientific than watching a groundhog. You've just about convinced me that I need to plant some peas in the vegetable garden this year:)

Daphne said...

Spring comes here around mid to late March. I'm also thinking rodents (dead or alive) really have nothing to do with it, and I too define spring as the day we are supposed to plant our peas. Sadly MY peas don't seem to like the early weather. When I grab their packet, they often tell me they want warmer weather before going out. I listen and put my coat back on the hanger and put my feet up and have some tea. They love going out in April on a warmish day. My neighbor's peas all seem to be more hardy about the weather.

Cindy, My Corner of Katy said...

Having seen a picture of the dead rodent in question, I can assure Carol's other readers that it looks much like any other rodent ... only MUCH quieter.

Happy Groundhog Day!

Leslie said...

Now that it's February mid March doesn't seem quite so far away! I agree with Cindy and add...flatter than the average rodent.

Terry said...

Well, thanks, but I don't need to see a picture of a dead rodent!
Yesterday here in SE MI we had a beautiful sunny day and 40 degrees, so the dog and I went and stood in the backyard and soaked up some sun and tried to imagine our garden under the 2 feet of snow covering it.
It was the perfect day to order my seeds! Today we are back to 20's.

MA said...

OK, I guess we can plan on waiting 6 more weeks for Spring? Is that the message, great Oracle? I will take a chill pill, get out my seed catalogs and wait along with you.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

Woodstock Willie is our local prognosticator (in Woodstock, IL). He's actually been pretty accurate. In 1998, he didn't see his shadow, and spring was declared to be over on February 19th. But most years, like you, I know that spring will arrive at its regularly scheduled time.

susan said...

What does Phil know anyway. And any groundhog who wanted to see his shadow here would have had to get out early because it rained most of the day. I'm voting for an early spring.
And no need for rodent pictures. I have quite enough rodents here, dead and otherwise.

getgrounded said...

Carol, I can't remember...when is it that you always plant your peas?

Town Mouse said...

Ha! If only we were so lucky and had snow or rain. It's been such a dry year, and we just hope that the rainy season will last longer to make up for scant amounts. Winter? Spring? I don't care as long as it's wet!
(And yes, the local rodents would have seen their shadow here as well, I'm not sure what that means, though)

Morning Glories in Round Rock said...

I am a firm believer in sticking to policy...I mean they are made for a reason, aren't they? I think I will make a pot of pea soup. For some reason I have a craving for peas.

Annie in Austin said...

Do snowblowers have automatic shutoffs like lawn mowers? Finding a rodent while clearing the drive does not sound like fun, Carol.

Thanks for reminding me it's time to watch the Ground Hog day DVD.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Kylee said...

Happy Groundhog Day to you too, Carol. Buckeye Chuck saw his shadow here today, too.

We see dead rodents around here on a pretty regular basis. It's the cats, you know.

Hey, got your pea seeds yet? (Pea seeds...that doesn't sound right...)