Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Spring really seems to be here.

The garden as of today.

The plants of the garden as of today.
 It is Tuesday afternoon, March 27. The wind is howling past my office windows as I type. The sun is drifting lazily across my desk. It is warm: 76 right now. But I've decided it was too windy to plant today. Especially since I wanted to plant lettuce seeds -- so tiny, and so prone to flying out of my hand. One morning this week, I plan on getting lettuce, peas and radishes into the ground. It's just about time. It's felt more like summer than spring for the past few weeks. Here, and just about every place in the U.S. east of the Rockies. But I know that last year just about everything I planted in late March and early April drowned in all the rain last April. So I don't mind waiting a little bit. In the seed room in the garage, there is spinach, celery, onions, two kinds of basil, and cabbage coming up. Two varieties of eggplants, eight varieties of tomato, along with thyme, oregano and cumin have also been started. Rich has been building me shelves on which to grow my seedlings. They're perfect. I've got a portable heater on low in the room, which, when combined with the moisture and the smell of the dirt and things growing makes the room nearly heavenly to walk into...

On St. Patrick's Day, our neighbor, Frank, mowed the garden. Rich saw him driving down the driveway in his mower, then veer toward the garden. I chatted with him for a bit, and thanked him for helping out. About an hour later, I look outside to see the same neighbor plowing the field. He tilled up a fairly large portion of the garden, almost exactly 25' by 40'. And although it looks very small compared to the rest of the garden, it's honestly about how much space I actually used last year. I don't know if he's coming back to plow any more... but don't think so. My plan is to plant that space, and then till more with the help of my friends Sherry & Andrea, who have a much grander farm than mine just a mile west of here. But it's been exciting to march the dogs out near the tilled soil and imagine working it... I'm ready! If only the weather will truly cooperate. I must say that this late winter summer snap had me ready to plant... but I keep waiting for winter's last hurrah...
Dandelions... I think they're beautiful.
It's been feeling more like spring lately. The crocuses are done. Our daffodils are done. There are huge swaths of beautiful, tiny violas in the grass. And dandelions everywhere. I keep meaning to gather all these dandelion flowers and learn how to make dandelion wine... (If there is anyone in the vicinity who knows how to make dandelion wine, and wants to work with me... let me know. These are organic dandelions!) The pear tree and both apple trees are blooming. There are bees everywhere (and so many wasps near the house). The lilacs just started blooming this morning, and I noticed the first buds on the mulberry tree. The tulips from last year are blooming like little tear-shaped snowdrops. And the tulips I planted in January are up... in beautiful shades of purple and red. Frankly, it's beautiful.

The lilacs are blooming!

The pear tree is blooming!
The early peepers have stopped. All grown up already, I guess, because at night we are already hearing the deeper sounds of larger frogs. The owls seem closer, and at times so do the coyotes. A few times over the past week, we've seen the most gorgeous pheasant down the road. And also a beautiful fox walking alongside Westfield road on the way home from work around ten at night... I was talking with a neighbor of ours the other week, and he told me he'd seen a coyote casually walking down his driveway while he walked to fetch his newspaper one foggy morning. He said he was a little disturbed by how large and unafraid the coyote seemed. I told him I'd seen a strange animal the other night, as I pulled into the driveway. It was low to the ground, mostly black or dark, with a long slightly bushy tail. Almost skunk-like, but definitely not a skunk. I told him it ran into the barn. He said it sounded like a mink. I like thinking we've got a mink living in the barn. Along with the rabbits under the porch, and the neighborhood owls (apparently both barn and Great Horned), having a mink in the barn makes me feel happy. There was an article in the paper the other day about bobcats, and how wildlife officials no longer think they're extinct in Illinois. There have even been some unconfirmed sightings here in Coles County... both my neighbor and I would like to think there could be bobcats living in the woods surrounding our branch of Hurricane Creek.

This warm weather, these blooming plants, the returning creatures have me most generally happy. I've been wanting to hang out with friends, cook together, throw some bags and drink some summery cocktails. Of course, since it's not summer, and I now work nights, this has not come to pass in the way I hope... but soon.

The garden is coming together... growing steadily in the garage, while the soil readies itself to welcome the plants... There are returning plants from last year: mint, lemon balm, parsley, cilantro, tansy, borage and hollyhocks. Leeks and garlic I planted late last summer are rising steadily in the raised beds. I've already picked some mint and dried some chives I picked this week... spring is definitely here! And now the work begins.


  1. I always enjoy your blog, Joe. It makes me happy!

    1. I'm so glad the blog makes you happy, Sherry! That makes me happy!