It’s surprising to me how quickly I forget what happened the year before, especially in terms of weather and the garden. Today I spent a few minutes looking back to see what I was posting on the blog last year at this time, and in 2012.
Was my brain really this blank? Was I not doing much but waiting for spring to come? I find myself making mad promises like: “When it is warm, I will remember this and I will ride my bike to work every day.” (I’m definitely not doing that.)
On March 14, 2012, it was 70 degrees in St. Cloud and we’d had no snow and barely a winter.
Last year, things didn’t look terribly different from how they look now, because we had a very snowy winter (the snow continued to fall until the first week in May!). Even so, I was encouraged enough by the number of warm days to go out and test the soil in the cold frame. I even scattered some seeds in there, from which I got early spinach and kale. The plants germinated, then froze, but some of them came back. The temperatures mostly rode the edge of freezing.
This year thousands of people in the area are running a faucet day and night so their pipes won’t freeze. After the polar vortex this past week, the frost level was recorded at seven feet. There is ice water coming out of people’s faucets. We are thankful every day for our new furnace and the availability of propane (at whatever cost!) to run it.
This year, a week late according to notes I made last year, I am just getting the first plants, the leeks, peppers, tomatillos and tomatoes, planted in trays today. I have heating pads under them but even so, I couldn’t bear to put them out when the basement was still in the 40s and the temps outside in the single digits or teens. Which they have been. Consistently. Peppers particularly will not germinate unless the soil is warm.
Meanwhile, Gardener’s Supply knows that I am vulnerable. They are sending me catalogues and e-mails at an alarming rate. I am focusing instead on the indoor stuff, the cooking and fermenting. I bought a sprouting lid and some seed and will be trying some sprouts to get a little quick greenery into our diet. I’m making ricotta and hummus and cheese more often. I bought Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi and have been stocking the pantry a little differently to cook from it. One must be creative in the tail end of winter.
Yesterday Steve and I went on a little outing (hey, it was 35 degrees) into the country to visit another guy with a sawmill. I’ve been trying to talk Steve down from his current idea of buying his own sawmill. The guy we visited, out past Holdingford near Bowlus, had a lot going on. He had gorgeous wood, and Steve bought two slabs of cherry. He also had geese. Two boys were in the barn unwrapping packages of stale bread and making a pile it would take his skid loader to move, which he planned on feeding to his pigs. He had two trailers and some other cool shacks, all of which, he said, were chicken coops. He also had a hoop house, into which he’s putting 26 raised beds. I asked if he was going to grow food and he said the operation was government subsidized and he had to grow food for schools for three years– but that the old guy who was supposed to do the gardening died in the fall.
I can’t tell you how much I wish I had photos to show of all the interesting things at this place, but I used Steve’s camera and the settings were off and none of them turned out. Except this one outside and one of the sawmill, which nonetheless didn’t capture the two chickens that were looking on (without ear protection, I might add). Let’s just say, I am always up for a trip to a local sawyer or lumberyard. And spring can’t come soon enough.