Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Minor Miracles

Spring is the season of quotidian miracles. It is always a wonder to me that tiny little seeds, tucked into dirt with a little daily watering, will grow into living green things. Later comes a second miracle. Those plants feed me, and really, really well.

But I'm getting ahead of the seasons already.

The first miracle of the moment is that an entire month of snow cover is almost completely melted away in a luscious March thaw - and it hasn't produced the spring mud. We've had a week of dry days, with temperatures getting into the low 50's F (~11 C) each day. Little by little, the snow has retreated to the shady sides of buildings and the ground has absorbed it all. There isn't even any water standing in the basement. We may yet get our mud season from the proverbial April showers. But at the moment, things look gorgeous.

I did a garden inspection as soon as the snow melted away and found the earth springy and fluffed up from the action of the frost heave. It almost breaks my heart to walk on it. This is how nature repairs the damage of compacted soils, at least in my part of the world. Another miracle. My intention for this year is to get the garden laid out into permanent beds, with permanent pathways between them, so that I never again have to walk where I intend to plant. And so that compost can be concentrated where it is most useful, while the less valuable mulch and straw is used to just keep down weeds in the pathways.

Today I'll use the warm, dry weather to start priming and painting my beehives.

How are things looking in your part of the world?


NMPatricia said...

Sigh. Here in New Mexico, the snow melt has left mud everywhere. Our road is next to impossible to get out because it it either so deeply rutted or like a huge mire. We have snow predicted for this evening and tomorrow. I really am ready for Spring now.

Penny said...

I think that only other gardeners truly appreciate the excitement to be found in seeds coming up, whether in a sunny window or fertile ground. Most people just look at me crazy when I say I spent my Sunday hauling manure and I'm excited about it. :)

Robin said...

Here in the SF Bay Area we had heavy frost this morning and hail yesterday but right now it's gorgeous, sunny and not a cloud in the sky (though there's a nip in the air - well a nip for me).
Have you ever read 'The New Self Sufficient Gardener' by John Seymour? It's fantastic. He's big proponent of deep bed gardening. We try to do that as best we can. Our veg beds are terraced boxes built onto a slope so it's easier said than done for us but we do try.
Is this the time to say my asparagus has been coming up since January ;)

Joel said...

Two other benefits of mulched paths:

They offer a space for a mostly-fungal soil ecosystem, in contrast to the mostly-bacterial conditions in the beds.

Also, chickens scratching up the mulch every now and again can be a good thing, and if it's only pathway underneath, they won't destroy many roots in the process

CatHerder said...

It has melted...garlic is coming up with the hyacinths and daffodils..i put the snowshovels and icemelt away today...hoping we dont get ANY more snow!

Robin said...

We are having a cold snap here in Oregon. It was 26 degrees here last night. I was getting ready to plant my onion starts but decided to wait until the cold front passed. Otherwise it looks like spring here. Lots of flowering trees and flowers are out.

Kate said...

Patricia, I'm ready for spring too, and I know this isn't it, what we've got going right now. We can expect frost until early May, at least. This is just a tantalizing foretaste of spring.

Penny, I've still got a partial load of horse manure in the pickup truck. I needs unloading before the rain arrives. I know the excitement.

Robin, heavy frost in the bay area is pretty unusual. I've not read the book you mention, but thank you for the recommendation. I'll request it through the library. I don't begrudge you your asparagus, but I'm impatiently waiting for mine to appear. This is the year of our first asparagus harvest!

Joel, yes, I've read the book (Mycellium Running) and I'm very concerned to maintain that soil nutrient delivery network. I saw quite a bit of it last year after heavily mulching with hay and wood chips from the yard waste facility in our township. Good signs!

Catherder, right there with you. I could do without any further snow this season. My garlic is looking a little ragged, but I'm hoping it perks up in the next few weeks.

Robin, brrrr! That's colder than what we're seeing in this part of PA right now. I'm sure you'll get warmer weather soon.

Tamar@StarvingofftheLand said...

We had that same thaw, with the same result -- the snow disappeared without bringing on the mud. When the first lettuce sprouted in the cold frame, it felt nothing less than miraculous.

More than what it does for the garden is what it does for me. Amazing how a few days of sunshine and warmth can change your mood.

Anonymous said...

I'd never thought about how frost heaving repairs compacted soil! What a beautiful thought!

We're looking much the way you are. Supposed to rain this week for the first time this spring...gotta get the root cellar finished so I can start learning to regulate the temp before it gets too warm!

Kate said...

Tamar, pretty amazing, isn't it? My mood is better too, though the list of chores is daunting.

Emily, good luck with finishing up your root cellar. I know the sense of satisfaction will be enormous.

Jeri said...

We've got some tomatoes that are ready to go in the ground that we started from seed in January. I'm getting tired of chasing the sun moving those one gallon pots all over the back yard. Just finishing thinning our nectarine tree and a peach tree. I'm still picking lettuce and kale and have one cauliflower left from the winter garden. It was great to not have to water this winter with all the rain we had in Southern California. We lucked out in that it kind of dried out in between each storm.

J.N. Urbanski said...

I know; nature is amazing. I can't believe it either. We have a greenhouse now, so we can lengthen our growing season as we're 3000 ft up there. There's nothing like getting up in the morning and find the first seedlings have sprouted.

Kate said...

Jeri, you must live in a much warmer climate than I do. My tomatoes aren't even started yet, but then I do plant them out late even by local standards.

JNU, I can't decide whether I'm jealous of those with greenhouses, or relieved that I still get a winter break from garden chores.