As the snowflakes fly, I am hoping by the time readers read this column, the flakes will have landed, melted and already added moisture to the warm and cold ground. The chilly, wet rain (errr snow) will certainly do a lot to add moisture to the ground. The ground, too, is ready to receive the flying seeds broadcast and directly placed in the soil by the farmer.
Already in the ground are spinach, peas and radish. These hardy greens can handle the temperature changes promised in the New England region. These days, as folks tap trees and boil down the sap, the time is ripe for cold, below-freezing temperatures at night and warming up into the 50’s during the long daylight hours of late March and April.
The sunshine is integral for seeds to consider germinating, sprouting and appearing through the soil. The tiny roots can nestle down into the soil and the slowly emerging stem and leaves poke up through the soil to soak in more sun. A well-prepared and already established moist soil can host the early growth.
These seedlings will not have to endure a transplant or a transition from a warmer, controlled, greenhouse to the outside world. Instead, these seedlings will spend their whole life in the outdoor garden bed, window sill or farm row. They will have a harder time growing, but will perhaps be a stronger seedling, plant and tastier bit of produce. Any of us living beings, plant, animal and human, can be made stronger by learning to survive and deal with the elements in our environment.
The vegetable scraps, manure and fallen leaves that compose a living, nutrient rich compost pile are dependent on the beneficial bacteria, micro-organisms and worms that work to make the finished product. A hardy New Englander who stays healthy, fit and perseveres knows how to shovel in late March and might be able to endure a late-winter wet snow, knowing that warmer days are ahead.
A thriving row of almost-ready radish in April can give thanks to the majority hours of warm sunlight overcoming the dwindling hours of cold, dark nights. The spinach too can continue to grow in these early, cool spring days. Lots of spinach from autumn plantings are also showing their heart and will to grow, as they are maturing into bigger, bold leaves for harvest and tasty enjoyment.
The farmers and school kids have many rows making a resurgence in farm rows and school garden beds. Some plants are well-protected by seaweed mulch. The pea plants that are also making their way into shoots and tendrils are climbing higher and higher. With stakes and trellises, the peas will climb and mature their way until June when flowers and pea pods appear for a delicious, sugary edible pod.
So let the flakes fly, since we planters and thinkers and sprouters are here to grow on and even thrive amidst the slings and arrows of outrageous early spring weather. For that matter, many of us can stand up for this change in climate and change in attitude. The spring and hope for growth and healthy food, to borrow a phrase, are certainly a future in which we can believe. So, sow the seeds, see the growth, add water and enrich with compost, all the while soaking up the longer, hopefully sunnier, days of light. Let it snow, let it grow. Persevere and be resilient. I dare say, at this time of year, the plants have risen.
© 2016, Jon Belber. All rights reserved. Friends of Holly Hill Farm