I don’t know anything that says Spring as much as finally being able to plant a garden. All winter long we are cooped up inside, trying to avoid the weather, or wrapped up in enough layers just to keep warm long enough to do the outside chores. Everything seems so ‘locked up’, if you will. The ground is hard and unyielding. The grass has long since turned brown and crunches underneath your feet.
And then one day, you walk outside, wrapped up in jeans, a long sleeved shirt covered by a heavy jacket and a thick crocheted hat on your head, and immediately begin to sweat. (Yes. Our weather here in the South really does go from freezing to blazing overnight.) You immediately pivot on one foot and head back to the closets to change into shorts, tee shirt and tennis shoes.
As you head to the barn, your step feels a little lighter. You pull in a deep breath of the fresh Spring air, and you hurry to get the feeding done so you can get to the tiller to service it out. Seed packets are pulled from the freezer and spread out across the table. That garden plan you worked so hard on all winter comes out of its folder. A few adjustments are made, because you spotted that pack of seeds that just begged to be incorporated into the plan.
Can you just smell the fresh dirt, as it’s being turned from hard crusty ground to soft pliable garden soil? Don’t you just love the feel of it as it filters through your fingers? And for once, you don’t even mind the trickle of sweat that runs down your back as you push the tiller through the plot, hammer in the trellis posts and lug the plants from the greenhouse. Ah, yes. Spring is here.
This year, the seeds we started in the greenhouse didn’t make it. If the truth were told, we probably could have worn those shorts and tee shirts about half of our winter. We would wake up to 38 degrees, and through the course of the day we would be out working in 60 degrees or warmer temperatures. Our greenhouse would go from almost freezing to so hot you could hardly breathe in there. The heater we bought couldn’t keep it warm enough, and the heat at noon could melt steel. As the last of the seedlings finally wilted beyond saving, we gave up. (We’re going to do the Scarlett O’Hara thing and think about a new heating/cooling system this fall). We didn’t’ even have to give a second thought to where we would get our plants, we just headed to the one place we knew we could get great healthy ones – Lex Plant Farm in Shreveport. Danny Lex and the Country Boy have been friends since their youth, and better yet, we discovered that Wendy was now working there. When you look up Green Thumb in the dictionary, it will tell you to go find her and look at hers. She is a Master Gardener in every since of the words – and her orchids just cannot be beat. So we loaded up on tomatoes, peppers, strawberries and two varieties of Muscadine grapes, then headed home to plant.
This year, we are rearranging our garden plans. We decided to try a small plot behind the house for a kitchen garden and to use the main garden to grow pumpkins and ornamental corn. We have struggled with the weeds in that space until our backs just aren’t willing to try again. One of my greatest joys is canning and preserving enough vegetables to last us through the winter, and it just wasn’t working in the main garden. So we are going to start amending it by building a larger compost pile and adding it in smaller sections until it is completely reworked. By doing that, we can do one or two crops, instead of trying to do it all.
I now have most all of my normal vegetables planted, just in smaller quantities. Instead of sixty or seventy tomato plants, I now have 11 – Roma, Argentine, Beefsteak and a couple other heirloom varieties. Instead of a hundred peppers, I have six each of bell and jalapeno. And I planted burgundy snap, cucumber and lemon squash seeds. With this garden there is the added bonus of a row of strawberries, and I will be adding some companion plants, which will almost double my variety – carrots and garlic between the tomatoes, parsley and basil with the peppers.
Sometimes, taking a step back and regrouping can be a good thing. It helps to give you a fresh perspective. It gives you an opportunity to rework your original goals, and still having its benefits, just on a smaller scale. And the maintenance will be less taxing, which will give me more time to work on other projects. To me, this new garden plan gives me the best of both worlds. And even better? The view as I step out my back door is even richer and more beautiful than ever before. And when the main garden is rejuvenated and ready for large scale planting again, just think of all the strawberries I can plant in the Back Door garden. Oh, yeah. Spring is here, and this is one happy Farm Wife.