Originally published Mar. 21, 2013 by Grit Magazine
I arrived at work at 7:30 AM, following a grueling 150 foot commute. The traffic was terrible. Normally both dogs march along shoulder to shoulder at the ends of their leashes. I tell Cochise, “Play yard,” or “Home” or “Mail box”, or (his least favorite) “Work” and he heads off in the right direction. I tell Blondie, “Stay with Cochise” and she obediently strides along beside him wherever he goes. Normally, but not today. Today I’d started the pickup truck earlier to warm it up before Marie headed into town and her work. Blondie really, really wanted to go for a ride; so when we came down the steps she was intent on going in that direction. Cochise smelled something fascinating down in the yard and really, really wanted to go that way to check it out. So they strained in opposite directions, neither one in the direction I needed to go. We worked it out eventually, but it was a disorganized swirl instead of the usual orderly parade.
Yesterday was the official first day of spring. It is cold and foggy this morning. There is a possibility of snow. I was wondering what happened, when I remembered something I saw at the Source of All Wisdom (Facebook), “The first day of spring and the first spring day are not necessarily the same, and can be separated by as much as a month.” I’m glad now that I didn’t put my potatoes in their garden boxes last weekend, I’ll do that next weekend. But I had planned on working at opening the garden for summer session this week.
The winter gardening session was disappointing; it was too wet and cold for much of what I grew. Still, we did get a fair bit of lettuce (until it got crushed by condensation that froze into ice on the inside of the greenhouse) spinach, beet tops, onion greens, garlic greens, carrot tops, as well as the last of the summer’s carrot roots. I got enough Brussels sprouts for one meal – but that is the best I’ve ever done with these sprouts; normally the looper worms gut the plants and kill them in days. By using a greenhouse vented with window screen I kept the moths away in the fall so the plants had a chance to grow to maturity for once. I had to cover the top vent with plastic after a particularly wet spell practically drowned them out as well.
The Swiss chard is just now getting any size to it. I’ll get one decent harvest from that when I pull it up to replant the box with something else.
On the positive side, our local Lowe’s store now carries composted chicken manure. That will help in rejuvenating the soil in my boxes. I used composted cow manure last year with disappointing results. Slowly, very slowly, I’m learning what works.