Step out the door to hear the musical dripping of snow melting off the roof. The driveway has thawed and feels soft and mushy underfoot. Snow recedes from shrubs and structures revealing…dirt!
A warm spell is changing things outside in a hurry. Temperatures are in the 40s, and the air feels downright balmy. Surely the sunlight is brighter than it was last week. The pussywillow and cherry buds are swelling. This northern gardener’s heart begins to warm with anticipation.
It’s too early for anything to happen outside. Winter can return in February, even in March. But it’s high time to start some plants inside. The seed catalogs started arriving before the New Year, and I’ve had many a happy daydream session over them. Even ordered some seeds. I look for short season varieties, since spring can be a cold, drawn-out affair here. Summer weather doesn’t settle down till July 4. I have my tried-and-true favorites such as ‘Blue Lake’ pole beans, ‘Red Sails’ lettuce, genovese basil, ‘Detroit Dark Red’ beets. In the spirit of wild experimentation I always try some new things too. Stalk celery takes over 100 days to mature, but there is a shorter kind of celery that takes 80 days. It’s used fresh or dried, and I figure I can preserve it for my winter soups and stews. I’ve never grown chard here, but it should do very well. Traipsing off to the supermarket for mystery vegetables in the winter is not nearly as satisfying as harvesting fresh from the garden, or pulling something home-grown from the freezer or jars. I like to know where my food comes from and not be scared of what it might have been through.
Rubbing my hands with glee…can’t wait for garden dirt under my nails!