, Salem, MA


January 31, 2014

Spring is six weeks away, no matter what

Tuesday is Groundhog Day — the day when thousands of people stand out in the cold to watch a rodent come out of his winter burrow and maybe see his shadow. They’re watching for WHAT? A groundhog’s shadow? If he sees his shadow, it is said there will be six more weeks of winter. Actually, there are about six more weeks of winter left on the calendar whether the groundhog sees his shadow or not.

Still skeptical about the validity of groundhogs and Groundhog Day and predictions of spring? In Big Run, Pa., they note the date that frogs first croak. The earlier the frogs are heard croaking, the earlier spring will come.

I personally believe in the animal shedding theory: If my cats shed early, spring will come early — and this year, my cat is shedding like crazy! And my neighbor saw three robins last week at Pickering Wharf. But whether you believe in the groundhog theory, the frog theory, the cat theory, or the robin theory, you can be sure that no matter what happens, winter has about six weeks to go. In about three weeks, the sun will have moved high enough in the sky to provide some serious melting and warmth. And no matter what the groundhog sees, we’re just six weeks until the official first day of spring — March 20. Bring it on!

Q: I always grow narcissus bulbs for right after Christmas. Somehow, by that time, I’m really sick of all the red and green, and I’m ready to see something pale and delicate — more like spring. Besides, I love their smell. I really don’t like growing them in white stones. Any suggestions? I know the white stones are traditional, but the bulbs always fall over.

A: Narcissus bulbs are completely reliable winter/spring flower bulbs to grow on the windowsill now. All that you need is a few narcissus bulbs and a container — you certainly don’t have to grow them in white marble chips. And the container can be anything from a traditional white bowl to a basket lined with plastic or a kitchen bowl. You could even use vases with an inch of water. The stones or gravel are just to hold the bulbs upright. I started using the leftover bag of shredded fir bark a few years ago because I had some bark left from fall mulching and the gravel was frozen hard.

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