You will find few people more attuned to the signs of spring than farmers and gardeners. Most of us have been pouring over seed catalogs for months already as if they were romance novels, immersing ourselves in fantasies of sunshine and abundance. The language they contain, too, is just as sensual and hyperbolic.
Nearly every one of dozens of plant varieties claims to be the very best at something, and each description is piled with poetic description. In Johnny’s Selected Seeds, for example, the Brandywine tomato boasts a “very rich, loud, and distinctively spicy” flavor, while the Green Zebra “develops a yellow blush, accentuating the darker green stripes.” The Krimzon Lee sweet and hot pepper, on the other hand, “is choice for roasting and grilling, salsa, and for adventurous salads.” O, the wild possibilities of salads-to-come! With these kinds of temptations piling up in the mail, it’s no wonder spring fever hits us so hard.
Every robin is a herald of worms waking up from winter, and every warm day is enough to convince the avid grower that winter has given its last chilly gasp. It all boils down to that dreaded Last Frost, though, which could kill or stunt starts that go in the ground too early. Every year as the weather heats up, the Average Last Frost Date seems like an impossibly distant Christmas morning for those waiting to plant. In Minnesota, that comes about the middle of May, though it is only average—that means that you can always push your luck if you just can’t wait.
Of course, there are always hardy cold-weather crops like peas and spinach to whet our appetites in the meantime. Though we’re a little farther north in the Twin Cities and maybe a week or two behind, Seed Saver’s Exchange publishes a graphical indoor/outdoor planting calendar that can be a great reference.
Fortunately, since here at Cornercopia we’re blessed with bountiful greenhouse space, we’ve been busy getting a head start on the season. Our indoor starts are flourishing, seed orders are rolling in, and we’re putting together our layouts for the season to come. It’s time to clear the fields, dig up old roots, and start thinking about putting some peas in the ground.
Michael Pursell, Blog Editor