at the Water's Edge

Living life and learning all I can along the way!

Groundhog Day: Ramblings on Weather and Gardening

If a gardener sees her shadow...
it must already be spring!

Today is Groundhog Day.  Today, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, meaning that we have six more weeks of winter.  I have to say, I always found the workings and presumptions behind Groundhog Day to be a bit perplexing.  Never mind the fact that we’re relying on the shadow of a groundhog to predict the weather (hey, he can’t be farther off than the weathermen, can he?)...

Firstly, consider this: if the groundhog sees his shadow, why does that mean there’s more winter?  Isn’t the sun a sign of spring?  It usually is here.  The sun tends to hide behind the clouds from December thru the end of February.  But legend holds if it’s cloudy and Phil does not see his shadow that spring is just around the corner.  It just seems backwards to me.

Secondly, you have to consider that I live in Michigan.  We don’t typically see spring until at least mid-April, if we’re lucky.  More often than not we get a little tease of spring, then winter returns, then it jumps right from winter to summer sometime in June.  That’s what happened last year.  That’s why my garden got planted late – the ground was still frozen!  So, considering this weather pattern, if we (only) had six more weeks of winter – putting us in mid-March, it would actually feel like spring really was just around the corner!  In essence, either result is translated the same to me…and never happens.

I take that back.  It did happen.  Not that long ago.  In 2010, we had an unusually warm and early spring – and I believe even record breaking highs in March.  I got started on my garden super early, which was great because I was particularly anxious seeing as though it was my first year in my house and first year attempting a garden.  Last year, as I mentioned, this did not happen.  Winter went on far longer than should be allowed.  But this year…this year, we have hardly had any days that actually felt like winter!  Besides a few days of snow and a few single digit temperature days, it’s felt much like a Michigan “spring” all season.  I can only hope that this trend continues as I begin to prep for this year’s garden!

I will be ordering my seeds soon.  These are the vegetables I think I want to grow this year: tomatoes, snow peas, lettuce, spinach, carrots, green beans, hot peppers, and Swiss chard.  I may make some changes and likely some additions, but that should give me a good start!  I actually saved some tomato seeds from last season—and I have enough that I’m hoping I don’t have to buy any.  My goal is to have as much of my garden as possible be self-sustaining.  I have some peas that I can plant, too, but probably not enough.  I planted most of them for my attempt at a fall crop last year.  I also harvested a TON of marigold seeds last year.  I am going to border at least one side of my garden with them.

Really, I only have about a month before I will be starting some of my seeds indoors.  I learned some tough lessons last year, though, being the newbie that I am.  I bought some organic seed starting soil last year, thinking that it was so expensive, it had to be good!  My seeds sprouted, but I could not for the life of me figure out why they stopped growing after a couple of weeks.  Since spring was so late to arrive (er, never arrived), I had them indoors for quite a long time, and they remained tiny seedlings.  It wasn’t until later in the summer that I inadvertently found the answer while reading through some seed-growing tips.  

The tips started out by saying how you should always use seed starting soil and never potting soil.  “Yeah, right,” I thought, “Mine worked way better in potting soil than seed starting soil.”  Then I read on: “seed starting soil is stripped of all nutrients, so after the seeds have sprouted, be sure to add a fertilizer.” What?!  Ugghh…why didn’t anybody tell me?!  No wonder my seedlings didn’t grow.  The poor things didn’t have any nutrients.  Then I remembered that in 2010, even with the non-seed-starting soil, I did add a bit of fertilizer at some point.  Guess the little guys need to be fed.  Lesson learned.  I’m ready to get an awesome early start on my garden this year.  I’m also ready to get an awesome early start on spring!  Come on, Phil!  Pull through for us – if spring is truly here in six weeks, and winter does not return, I will be one happy camper…er…gardener!

Share this:


Hi there! My name is Dana and I live in West Michigan with my husband, Tom and our dog Copernicus. I created this space as a place to share the things I learn along this journey I call life. I work in marketing and I'm a sort of Jane of All Trades, interested in all things nature, gardening, cooking, exploring and learning new things. This blog is a conglomeration of my interests, hobbies, life and life lessons. Thanks for stopping by!