We are a month into garden season here in Minnesota. Maybe?!! March is really to cold and often snowy so garden clean up and planting are a no go. There is the starting of some plants inside under grow lights or for some there is the art of winter sowing (using gallon plastic milk containers cut in half, planted, and nestled into the snow waiting for the warmth of late winter sun to create a mini greenhouse for them. Great fun, but I have never gotten it to work and we don’t drink milk at my house so I am always chasing after friends for containers.) But really it is best to find good gardening magazines or books to keep reading and planning. The garden season is not open yet.
April is when we think the garden season really opens! Yes, now we are ready. The trees are showing signs of waking up, the snow is gone and grass is finding ways to turn green. All well and good but …
That should be a BIG BUT because this year winter has choose to hang on. Oh, we have had days that we see the sun and the temperature has reached 70 but they have been few and far between. This has been a month of showers. I know April showers bring May flowers but these showers are mixed with snow. The days are cloudy, windy, damp and chilly.
The flowers we placed in pots by the front door for spring color are being dragged into the garage at night for fear of freezing – out again in the late morning and in again each night. The daffodils, bless their hearts, are blooming and hanging in there. They like the cool weather. The tulips are up with buds but are refusing to open up to full color due to the dark cold days. Trees are very slowly trying to leaf out as well as bushes. Some of the blooming trees are in mid bloom and just hanging in there.
As to clean up in the yard – about half of it is done. The larger beds in the back gardens are wet full of leaves and last years plants. Every day I think yes, now – then it rains or snows or my grandson is here ready to eat rocks and leaves or he is also great at pulling up anything green, which means the plants I am hoping will grow. I am working on teaching him to pull Cheeping Charlie but he has no interest in that plant. Geez, he is 1 and 1/2 can’t he follow a few simple directions – “pull that vining plant with the small purple flowers and be sure to pull the whole vine” I know he knows the color purple due to a black eye his mother had in March due to a fall on ice. Oh, well maybe next year at 2 and 1/2 he will be of more help with the Creeping Charlie.
Then there is the indoor seedlings that I start each year. The tomatoes, peppers, basil and a few herbs. I was excited that at least if I am not gardening outside in April I have my indoor plants to make me happy. Well, not! I planted African Flack Daisy’s early and Leeks. They are doing well – except I can’t image the tiny thin thin leeks will every be big enough to be called a leek and be cut up for soup. Currently after a month of growing they are thinner that beginning chives.
Then we have the tomatoes and pepper and basil. The main stay of my summer veggie garden. The tomatoes are growing oh so slowly – and a few varieties have chosen to not come up at all. I have replanted twice. The peppers – nope – I planted 18 small cells with multiple seeds in each cell I should have way over 36 pepper plants starting. I have two! TWO – just two! And then there is the basil, of which there are four different varieties. A few of each variety have chose to pop their heads up but I have five people thinking they are all getting some of the 36 or more of those plants as well. I have also re planted those.
Today I took stock of the situation. Here is what I am guessing is going on –
1. My grow lights decided to burn out mid way into the tomato planting so they were all functioning under poor light. (that has been taken care of)
2. Then I used a new seed starting mix this year. It looked great but now I am wondering if that is part of the issue. So – I changed out the soil mixture and re potted the pepper seeds again. I will check on tomatoes that have not sprouts tomorrow and may try repotting those with the new mix soil as well. I am not sure what to do about the basil so I will wait it out this week and hope more of those guys decide to sprout. The tomatoes even through small I moved them into new potting soil and into larger pots. I thought a bit of encouragement might help them think big or at least bigger.
3. Then there is the issue that it is just cold and damp – I have the new starts on heat mats to help them along but a basement is a basement and it is holding the chill of this extended winter/ early spring. Don’t know what to do about that! No, I am not running an extra heater in the basement but I did think about it.
Now we are at April 27th. I have not started anything in the outside beds – no spinach, lettuce, radishes, or peas. The inside seedling look like last years March plants. They are all at least 4 weeks behind where I wanted them to be. In a normal year I could be placing these little darling out in the garden by May 15th. It is clear that is just not going to happen. The soil is still cold – not icy but cold. The plants are too small to even think about going in the ground.
The name of the game this year is frustration and patience – the joy of the garden is being over ridden with struggles and bad weather. I need to hang in there!
Through it all I have still managed to drag dirt into the house on my work boots for my husband to clean up. I have managed to keep my fingernails full of dirt and the knees of my jeans dirty. I am not sure how since no gardening is really getting done but indeed it is the end of April and I know because I am always dirty. So it must be the garden season – snow and all!
Happy Garden Season or at least Happy Spring