In years past, I would still be mired in the garden planning process during the month of March. This year? Not so much. I don’t consider myself to be a planting expert. I’m more of a bumbling garden dabbler, approaching each new agricultural season with zeal. Carefully mapping out each organic planting area and armed with the best of intentions, orders are placed for interesting seed collections and little-known heirloom vegetables.
Each year, I carefully till, mulch, water and fight the usual garden pests while dreaming of the first harvest from every plant species. And then life intervenes. The annual slug fest begins. The mosquitoes chase me out of the garden and the weeds win the race to the top, blocking the sunlight from the tender young shoots. I always go back to defend the garden’s sullied honor, but the harvest is never as grand as I imagined it during the planning and planting stages.
This year, the weather has wrought an interesting challenge. It has been unseasonably warm and though local wisdom says not to plant a garden prior to Memorial Day, I have found myself inexplicably drawn to dig in the dirt. The signs of spring are everywhere! We have grape hyacinths and miniature daffodills in full bloom. The trees have starting to flower and even the grass needs to be mowed. I want to plant all of my garden beds now in the hope Mother Nature will continue to smile down on us and gift us with a bountiful harvest. So far, the urge has been kept (mostly) under wraps. Limiting myself to cold tolerant crops like peas and lettuce, I worry that the rising temperatures will actually cause lettuce and peas to bolt! This week, we’ve had temperatures in the high 70’s and there’s still no sign of a typical NY winter.
Aside from the cold-tolerant seedlings, we have had our first garden harvest of the 2012 season: Chives. They never seem to disappoint me. They grow in clumps in the garden, in pots on the porch and even volunteer each year in the yard. Like most herbs, they thrive in well-drained soil. Never finicky, the plants thrive in either full sun or partial shade, but do prefer a bit of moisture. As they are perennials, there is no need to replant them.
We have both garlic chives and regular onion-flavored chives growing all over the place. It may only be March, but it is a sure sign that we’ve been gifted with an early spring. (Don’t tell Mother Nature…She may decide to send a late season blizzard our way!)