Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Unseemly Haste to Plant

It happens every year, of course, but this year it’s earlier than usual. With the lack of snow and the warmer than normal days, it’s hard to resist. Roses are starting to leaf out, perennials are coming up. And the nurseries have young plants for sale, at least a month earlier than average. How can a person resist?

It would be foolish to plant now. For one thing, our average last frost is the middle of May, and it’s usually later than that. But even if the plants put out are hardy ones, the soil cannot be worked yet. Except for the top inch, it’s still got that jelly-like texture. If it’s worked now, before it’s dried out, it will turn into concrete and not be a good texture again until after next winter’s multiple freeze-thaw cycles break it up. That, or a little low level atomic testing. Our soil is still wet enough that the weeding I’ve been doing has all been from the paths and edges. The few times I’ve put my foot out into the garden beds, it’s sunk down and created a footprint that I suspect will be there until next spring. So I resist, watching the weeds that I can’t reach grow taller, and wishing I could plant things.

I’m not totally virtuous, though. I’m starting to amass a collection of plants that have followed me home. The hardy ones – the white salvia, the variegated polemonium- live on the porch night and day. Another one followed me home today, a purple anemone. It’s in for the night because it’s been in a greenhouse and I don’t know how cold it got in there at night, but it’ll only take it a few days before it can be left out full time. Other things go out during the day and spend the nights inside- the flat of baby spinach (which Banshee seems intent on having for baby salad greens), the rooted cuttings of privet and mandevilla. The tomatoes, peppers and other things have been seeded and soon those flats will need light during the day. We’re working on getting the greenhouse usable again, but it’s a long, hard task of taking it almost completely apart and putting it up again. We’ll be up to our waists in seedlings before it is ready to receive plants. Why does the human soul have to be so keen to start the gardening season? By midsummer, I’ll be sick of weeding and watering and ready for fall!

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