We've had temperatures in the 70s and 80s here in Central Illinois for about ten days. Every living thing thought it was spring before it actually was (calendar-wise, that is). I fear we will still see bad weather; I've seen it snow in April here. Unfortunately, plants that emerged too early will suffer if that happens.
Our greenhouse is now up, Carl put it together yesterday in between raindrops. I have all the seed packages lying on the dining room table but haven't started any except the tomatoes and peppers. This year I purchased my seeds from Park Seed Company while in my jammies on a cold winter's day. I usually order seeds when it's the coldest, gloomiest, and farthest from spring, it makes me feel better. The varieties I ordered are: Organic Pepper California Wonder (One of the best for stuffing - a blocky 4 x 3 ½", thick-walled, tender and flavorful. Popular), Tomato Mega Bite Hybrid (a determinate that's great in containers), Tomato Sweet Baby Girl Hybrid (Park Seed Claims:1. It rarely cracks. 2. It grows on space-saving, manageable plants. 3. It yields HUGE numbers of fruit over a long season. 4. It has a great after-picking shelf life. 5. It is the sweetest, best-tasting Cherry Tomato ever!), and Tomato Costoluto Genovese (Costoluto Genovese is a large, juicy Italian heirloom tomato with an acidic-tart full-tomato flavor well suited for slicing and serving fresh or cooking. Costoluto Genovese has been a Mediterranean favorite since at least the early eighteenth century. The key to this mid-season beefsteak’s rich tomato flavor is heat. Grown away from the dry, sun-drenched gardens of the Mediterranean this tomato might disappoint). I will start these seeds in the house on a heating pad and move them to the greenhouse after they have a couple of sets of leaves. I use the black dishes that frozen entrees come in for starting seeds, a good seed starter mix, and saran wrap to keep the moisture in. As soon as the plants emerge, I take off the saran wrap and I will transplant them into bigger containers when they're about an inch tall. In April, I will start flats of salvia, ganzania, zinnias, cosmos, tithonia and mammoth sunflowers.
The toads in the pond have started singing; last night there were at least three. If you haven't heard American toads singing, check this out: American Toad Singing. Imagine a bunch of these singing outside your bedroom window all night every night for weeks. They like to sing from inside our skimmer which resonates and echos and creates even louder sounds. Soon they will start to wrestle for breeding rights. Update: they are already breeding. I'm not that great at video, but I think this shows the skimmer and pond pretty well - the dangling thing was the cap to the camera, I couldn't hang onto the camera and the cap and the skimmer lid at the same time. There are at least eight breeding pairs in our skimmer and four or five single guys.
The bluebird box outside the craft room window remains unclaimed. I have had some house sparrow interest but any male house sparrow that claims the box will be trapped. The chickadees have not been here for several days so they either have another nest box in mind or they're traveling - spoke too soon, the chickadees are at the nest box as I type.
Blooming now in Central Illinois: Redbud trees, forsythia, Bradford Pears, daffodils, tulips, violets, and dandelions.