Spring Garden Rituals
She is here, you know.
The blooming maples are splashing the hills red, the garden’s awashed in the yellows of daffodils and forsythias. Snow drops, winter aconites and reticulate iris seem a distant memory already: our hearts rejoiced in the brave little show they put up when all was dreary, but now we are dazzled by colors and fattening buds everywhere. The skunk cabbage is unfurling its acid green leaves in the marshy areas of the woods and the peepers have been singing full-throated for a few weeks. In sheltered spots, the hepaticas, our earliest woodland ephemeral, are opening their tiny face to the sun.
Mild sunny days following some much needed rain early in the month, and yes, it’s spring indeed.
We’ll have frost again, but the greens – either perennials or sowed last fall – are growing again spurred by longer days, milder temperature… and the rain: arugula, spinach, mache, sorrel, mustard, cilantro, chicories and the very first of the lettuce. Those early greens are vibrant and alive – a pleasure to eat.
The busy planting season has also started.
Potatoes, already well sprouted, were planted in the cold frame the first week of March. I don’t have the right storage conditions for potatoes – and way too many bugs attack them anyway – but sweet potatoes do very well for us and keep for months at cool room temperature (we are still eating our fall harvest), so I’ll be planting 3 dozen slips come May. Still, I plant some potatoes for new potatoes and some summer salad.
Onion plants have been purchased and transplanted. I am not convinced that my onions from seeds will do so well. And the little bulbs never grow for me. And we eat lots of onions. They are almost as good as garlic to keep the vampires away, you know…
Lettuce, kale, and frilly mustard, started in cell pack were transplanted over the last 2 weeks.
Arugula, spinach, more lettuce, more mustard, carrots, radishes, peas, cilantro and beets have been direct sown. The radishes, arugula & spinach have already germinated. I am not expecting much from spring planted spinach: fall planted spinach is vastly better in our area – and we are indeed harvesting spinach planted last fall at the moment. But as I intent to use the spring planted spinach as cut baby green it should not matter that the warm days will make them bolt before they have a chance to get big. Radishes, lettuce & mustard, I am planting some every week – not quite the “thimble full of lettuce seeds every Monday” called by Thomas Jefferson, but in that spirit, you know.
Fava beans – were sowed at the same time as the peas (El‘s seeds and instructions). She actually sent me the seeds last year, but I received them past pea planting season. I hope they are still viable. We’ll see, won’t we? Fava bean is a new crop to me and I dearly hope I have something to harvest.
In the greenhouse, tomatoes, pepper, basil & eggplants are doing well. So are cabbage, broccoli, Swiss chard, leeks and onions (from seeds) that I want to fatten more before transplanting out.
I am definitively ahead of last year in the garden, both in cleaning up, preparing and planting. And for that I can thank the abnormally dry winter we’ve had. I never thought I would feel any gratitude for this past winter’s weather!
Will the feeling last, though?