Friday, January 23, 2009

Planning for Spring

We are not quite yet to that next pivot point in the year.. whether you know it as "groundhog day" or Inbolc or Candlemas as I sometimes call it "spring finding" but even in the weeks leading up to this time, my thoughts and plans are turning to spring. Yeah, we have a couple of feet of snow on the ground and more to come, for this is -- here in the northlands at least -- much closer to the middle of winter than anything that looks like spring.

Nevertheless, much sooner than we expect the sap will be rising and for those with maple trees to tap, the work will begin with snow still on the ground. These days, I understand, most folks do not trudge through the snow with buckets, carrying the sap to the shed where it's turned into syrup but rather set up a network of tubing. But never the less, this late winter ritual will signal the time that, as a gardener, I need to already be prepared.

So, as we roll over to the first checkpoint of the year, I have been busy ordering seeds and soon will be trying to figure out when -- for this climate -- I need to start what. Many things that I direct seeded elsewhere will need to be started indoors (like the squash and cukes and melons). How early will I need to start the leeks (soon, I think!) and other long-season crops like the late cabbages and brussel sprouts. What about getting a drop on the season with lettuce transplants? When, exactly, need I start the peppers and tomatoes for them to be ready to go out the end of May?

The end of May is the traditional, plant everything time here... but the soil can be worked long before that and many crops will germinate and thrive -- getting a good start in the cool spring days. Lettuces, peas (though no thought to "plant peas on St. Patrick's Day" or potatoes on Good Friday is applicable here) and other crops that can stand a bit of cold can go out earlier. I am thinking of experimenting with floating row covers, as it will be easier than running out to cover each baby plant in the dark when I get home from work.


oldcrow61 said...

Wow, judging from that list of seeds you're going to be busy. You must plant some Sugar Snap Peas. You can eat the shell and all. They're wonderful, sweet and delicious. People visiting my garden will take the peas off the vine and munch on them while walking around.

Anonymous said...

Imbolc is one of my favorite times of year. It's the day the sun reaches the height required for growth and the end of dormancy in the unheated greenhouses. Not long after I'll see growth starting!

Jj Starwalker said...

PEAS Cascadia Snap is a variety of sugar snap pea. I have planted them for years, since they first came on the market. The kids used to love them, too!