Winter Fever

Spring fever … has come a little early this year.

Of course, now that we’ve moved a frost zone further South, winter was a bit long in coming, too. So long that I was tempted to stretch the season by planting things waaaay later than I should have.

I got a little excited by the choices for fall planting in this frost hardiness zone. But I reserved this lot for spring.

I got a little excited by the choices for fall planting in this frost hardiness zone. But I reserved this lot for spring.

Things like cabbage and cauliflower seedlings, radish and spinach and chard seeds–not in late August or early September… but in October. That was definitely pushing it. Some of those things worked out. Hey, radicchio plants are twirling happily into rosettes in the back 40 (by 40, square feet, that is) –in nearly February! And there’re about 20 spinach plants, too, about the size of a demitasse saucer. Not to mention the cabbages and collards which wintered over happily in a blanket a straw and which we have been happily munching as the offerings in the grocery store get grimmer and grimmer.

Of course, other things were utter failures. Watermelon radish? Bit the dust with the first hard frost. Bull’s Blood beets? They got about an inch tall–then … when the temps dipped to 18 last week, they simply crisped. I had high hopes for the Lucullus chard–it was the cold-hardiest of the varieties, safe, according to the literature, to 10 degrees. The literature lied. The seedlings didn’t get a straw winter suit when the last hard freeze hit a few weeks ago, and in the thaw that followed? Well, suffice it to say their current consistency is of the texture of wet and somewhat melted Saran Wrap.

Heavy sigh.

I remain philosophical. These were in the nature of experiments, after all. (I hear the echo of the McVicker’s favorite tagline as I write the words: “Experiments! There must be more experiments! Bwah-ha-ha-ha!”)

After all, I’m learning, too. And I’m having to teach myself. Because my PawPaw died too young to teach me and because this was knowledge that mother and father and all their siblings rejected. Understandable. This was a generation that had been told they were only fit for domestic work–that to settle for anything less than college and a professional’s lifestyle was incompatible with “progress” and “modernization” and the “good life.” So I guess I’m “unlearning” also.

And it all starts with seeds. Marc always sows his first seeds on January 28, and he always starts with basil because he loves it. It’s sunny and warmish today also–so today we’re going to lime and till our vegetable beds and work on the expansion plan for the insectaries and the new crops… After all it’s winter and, even in winter, there must be more experiments!

Basil seeds soaking--the first sign of spring in the Hamilton-McVicker household.

Basil seeds soaking–the first sign of spring in the Hamilton-McVicker household.

1 comment for “Winter Fever

  1. marc
    February 13, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    hi bunny!

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