All of our seeds are in and I am very excited about some of the varieties we will be growing this year. Lots of heirlooms, some fun seeds from discoveries we made in Italy, and a few new tomato varieties to try. I usually try one or two new heirloom tomato varieties every year anticipating a new favorite. I am still partial to the extraordinary flavor of the Black Krim. Those of you who are CSA members will get a chance to taste the amazing flavors of those heirlooms!
This past week I prepared the greenhouse for planting. Got the propane tank filled and fired up the heater and tested the heat mats.
What many of you may not know is the process in which we propagate our plants. So let me share some of the process.
Seeds require soil to be warm. Many germinate at around 70 degrees, but some need more heat (seedless watermelon for example) and some less (lettuce).
But as any of you know, a greenhouse stays much warmer when there is any sun at all. For example, when I was out planting seeds today, the outside temperature was about 20 but the greenhouse was close to 80 degrees.
Once the seedlings emerge from the soil, 50 degrees is more than ample to keep them growing and happy. I like happy plants, they make me happy.
So why am I smiling? (I mean besides the happy plants?!)
There is nothing I love more then having my hands in soil. I love the feel and the smell. I love planting tiny seeds and knowing that in a few short months they will be producing wonderful tasting tomatoes, peppers, melons, onions, kale, lettuce, broccoli, beets, brussel sprouts, etc. Soil makes me happy. The sun, the water, photosynthesis, sustaining the earth's balance - the eternal circle that makes things grow makes me happy.
This is the season when it begins. The first seeds are in the soil. In 2 weeks another batch goes in (each seed type has different germination and growth time - for example, peppers go in now, tomatoes in 2 weeks) and so on until late April.
In a few weeks seeds for peas and lettuce go in the fields.
In early May the seeds for sweet corn, pumpkins, squash, melons, herbs and beans, etc go in and potatoes get planted.
By mid-May the seedlings that I am starting in the propagation house get planted.
Before you know it we will be harvesting berries. I can almost smell the raspberry, blackberry and blueberry blossoms. I think the only thing that loves that scent more than me are the bees. And speaking of the bees.
Diana checked the bees last week when temperature actually reached 50 degrees, and despite the unprecedented cold we had this winter, 4 out of her 5 hives survived, and the only casualty was a small and week hive. She reports they are all still full of honey so we will have a good honey supply this year. She hopes to grow the apiary to about 10 hives this summer.
Pollinators make me happy. The bats and swallows that live in the barn make me happy. Soon the swallows will return and the bats will come out of hibernation. We are friends, the bats, the bees, the swallows and me. I keep their habitat clean and free from chemicals and in return they pollinate my crops and eat the pests that want to eat my crops. Knowing they will be back soon and doing their jobs makes me smile.
Today it all started. The first seeds are in. Can anything be more exciting than that? What can bring more hope than that? And I smile.
I think I know how a bear feels when it awakens from hibernation. The prospect of 12-14 hour days, 7 days a week for 6 months doesn't seem at all daunting now. It feels like fun. If feels like hope.
I am smiling.