These days, Mother Nature doesn’t always cooperate. After a mild winter, spring seemed to arrive early. I was out on my hammock soaking in the sunlight only a few weeks ago. I got ambitious and turned over the soil in the raised beds for my vegetable and herb garden. Last year I started the garden too late, only to have many plants dry out in the heat before hitting full fruit. I wasn’t going to make that mistake again. But then, Mother Nature played a joke on me (and all of us in the Northern part of the U.S.). We had 3 successive days of below freezing temperatures, including actual snow on the ground in April. Egads!!!! Add so I pulled out my Jung Seed catalog. Instead of just getting seeds, I loaded up on starter soil, biodegradeable seed kits, and deck planters.
We have a spare work desk (and old conference room table) we use for large complete projects to organize the paperwork. As our office receives direct sunlight half the day, and indirect light for the rest, we decided to move the garden indoors. I started filling up half the desk, but as the cold weather continued, I decided to add more plants to the “start inside” option. You can see the results: a full conference table teaming with incipient plant life. We have the traditional tomatoes, cucumbers, string beans. We have the less traditional egglant, kohlrabi, fennel and dill. We are going to try growing kale in the hope it will be less bitter than the store variety. And of course, the key to summer cooking is fresh herbs. Our oregano, scallions, chives and sage wintered well. However, the cilantro did not return. As such we are starting with cilantro, 3 forms of basil, tarragon, rosemary, parsley, thyme and dill. And don’t forget, two varieties of broccoli.
What is fascinating is the different seed sizes, as well as the speed of germination. You wouldn’t believe it but the broccoli was the fastest seed out of the gate. The microscopic size seeds blasted out in profusion, of long tender (fragile shoots) almost the day after I watered them. The french string beans came next, followed by the kohlrabi. The cucumber seeds are now emerging and we have the first tomatoes. It is now a week and the basil have started coming out. What is fascinating is how each plant has not only a distinctive leaf, but also a distinctive leaf pattern. The first leaf is often buried in the seed. But it is the 2nd set of leaves that shows the full distinction. Also, by the time you hit the second set of leaves, you have a good idea the plant will survive.
And then there is the smell of the garden, brought inside. There is a rich earthiness to the potting soil that is released when the soil is sufficiently moist. It reminds me of spring and rebirth. But to my wife, she says it reminds her of something else, something dark and brown that I don’t repeat in polite company. But for me there is the daily routine of adding water, and checking what new life form has emerged in my office. It is still cold outside; night temperatures below freezing, but I am looking forward to the warming sun and the bouquet of herbs and basket of fruits.
April 21 – 10 Days Later
The garden is making real progress. Many of the plants are on their 2nd set of leaves. You can even see the sunflowers and russian kale in the back.