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Winter loses its grip

Looking for signs of spring is something I enjoy doing this time of year when the dark, damp, cold days of winter begin to lose their grip.  

Actually, I’m delighted we made it through the larger part of January without having to deal without the aftermath of a 12-inch snowstorm and single digit temperatures.  

Do you recall the record snow that fell in January 1963, a freak mid-March blizzard in the 1970s and the recent Christmas ice storm that knocked out electric power in Hartselle for several days? 

With a burst of energy, I spent some time working outdoors for a couple of sun-splashed days in mid-January. I cleaned up some debris in my garden, trimmed some shrubbery and used part of a day in the woods cutting bean sticks. How refreshing it was to soak up warm sunshine and breathe fresh air without getting choked up on allergies or having to wear a coat. 

I spotted several signs of spring while I was puttering around outside.  

Jonquils are popping out of the ground, a bush outside our kitchen window is in full bloom, and wild onions are invading our yard. Additionally, a giant Bradford pear tree in our back yard is in the budding stage, and minutes of daylight are growing each day.  

I realize winter is not over yet. Snow, ice and frigid temperatures can occur at any time until the danger of frost passes.  

However, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we will have an early spring with opportunities for farmers and gardeners to get their crops planted in a timely manner. Planting delays caused by excessive rainfall resulted in most garden vegetables not reaching the market on a timely schedule in 2019.  

Hopefully I’ll be able to get an early start on my garden by jumpstarting plant growth in a greenhouse. This process enables growers like Flint Farm to reach the market with ripe tomatoes as early as May. Tomatoes grown from commercial nursery stock don’t ripen until mid-June. 

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