© 2014, Jon Belber. All rights reserved. Friends of Holly Hill Farm
Hurry Up & Wait
I picked a small spinach leaf and a small kale leaf today, in the warm glow of a 30 degree day with plenty of wind and cool breeze, with the possibility looming of snow and already the long Winter not so far behind us. The spinach was part of a sowing back in Autumn at the Old Colony Montessori school in Hingham. The spinach barely took hold in the Fall before the cold weather and snow came tumbling in. The kale is part of a new growth off an old-established plant, a plant that the first, second and third years at the school happily devoured. After a long Winter that may yet bring more precipitation and plenty of chill in the coming days are reminders that Spring in New England often comes slowly. Upon reading this column, though, there may be a 60 degree day on our doorstep. The spinach and kale are nice hints of the near to distant promise of seeds and plants that germinate, grow and surprise us.
The farmer at Holly Hill is not surprised by the seedlings that are up in the greenhouse. There is plenty of warmth captured in the hoop house during the daylight hours. Conversely, she has to stoke the fire plenty at night to maintain a semblance of warmth for the fragile trays and trays of onions, eggplants and peppers. The seedlings are indeed dancing in their potting soil, delighted at the hope of growing, happily receiving the water from the old silver can, delivered by hand, tray by tray. These organic seeds, carefully sourced from a variety of seed savers and organic purveyors, are meant to shed their coats, attach to the soil and reach for the sun. With proper care, the seedlings are under the watchful eye of the farmer and all who visit to sow and sing to these little plants. One has to also keep an eye on any four-legged friends who seek the nourishment of awakening pea seeds. keep those creatures at bay, and let’s find a different food source for them. There is always a challenge in the simple task of adding seed + soil + water + sun. With challenges stared down and overcome, what then becomes of the surviving seedlings?
Where go the plants when they outgrow their seed trays and starter pots? The ground is likely too cold. We need more long, sunny days to warm the growing fields, many inches below the surface. Lots of raised beds with soil are exposed to the elements and may take longer to thaw. With more patience and a slow slog towards warmer Spring days, we will need to coddle these plants a little longer in their warm settings. In the meanwhile, when the sun is shining late into the evening, and we are still surprised by the setting sun at 7:23 pm, I will look for some returning signs of Spring growth. Some seedlings and plants are not under the kind, watchful eye of the farmer. Rather these plants and new leaves are in gardens at schools and on old forgotten kale plants in the mostly barren farm fields. Look for the buds on cold, leafless trees. Pull away some Autumn leaves to see what grows beneath. A discovery of a few spinach leaves will not a dinner salad make, but it is a start. Hurry up Spring, we are looking, hungry and waiting.