It's the middle of March, and here in Massachusetts, we've seen a few handful of welcome but rare days peak out at 50 degrees. Mostly. we're still struggling to stay consistently above freezing.
It means there's still plenty of that gross, brownish-grey piles of snow piled everywhere, a generous blanket of snow & ice covering most of the lawn, and my maple taps are performing rather poorly (they need warm days and cold nights). And my garden beds are sitting there, blanketed in white and pretty forlorn, despite the first shipments of seeds showing up from my mail order catalogs. I'll detail my garden plans in another post, when I don't feel like Spring is quite so far away.
However, after walking back and forth to check in on the chickens a few times, I took a peek into the cold frame that I built last year.
I built it out of reclaimed wooden-framed windows, on the end of one of the raised beds to allow the soil to warm up quicker. And to hopefully give me a place to start a few early crops. It had been covered by snow for weeks and months, but the few recent sunny days had left it clear.
And unlike the rest of my garden or beds, I could see the soil underneath it, teasing me with what Spring might look like.
I lifted open the top windows (they're all hinged at the top) to take my first peek inside.
The soil is cold and damp. But holy shit! Look you guys. That's some green stuff growing in there.
OK. So they're weeds. And they look pretty spindly & pathetic. But clearly there is hope for warmer days ahead, despite the weatherman doing his best to convince me that a new glacier is has probably formed just outside of Boston.
That's good enough for me. I ran back inside and ripped open one of the boxes from Territorial Seed that had been sitting tucked forlorn next to my desk for several weeks. I rooted around the rustling, promising packs filled with so much hope & seeds of vegetables I shall one day harvest in a distant, summery dream. I found a pack of arugula seeds, and a pack of early spinach seeds. Both amongst the earliest crops I always hope to gather from a spring garden.
I scooted back out across the ice, and raised the windows of the cold frame again. With a trowel that hasn't been touched in months, I cleared the remnants of last winter's greens, dug four neat little furrows on each side, and dropped the seeds into the soil, before scooping the loose soil back down lightly, and closed the windows again to keep the cold frame snug.
There's no doubt that I should really wait at least another week (or probably two) before I bother planting even this - putting my hands down into the soil left my fingertips more than moderately chilled. But the two packs of seeds cost me about three bucks, so worst case, I'm not out a lot of money, and I might get a few extra salads a little earlier than I would have otherwise for my gamble. And the little glimmer of hope I got out of seeing a few green weedy shoots promising how vibrant my garden might be?
That's without price.