Spring! Spring! Spring!
It’s been a while since I last wrote. So much has been happening over here, it just about slipped my mind. Plus, the warm Spring air tugs at me to come outside every time I sit down at a computer. You know how it is!
The last few months at the farm have been filled with challenges, but also small victories, happy surprises, and our first blooms of the year.
First Blooms! Hello, Hellebores
The first blooms of the season are open, and I love them so much. These are hellebores, a perennial flower also known as the “lenten rose” because it likes to bloom in the cool temperatures of very early spring.
Now for some plant nerdery: hellebores are cool because the parts that look like petals are actually sepals. Normally, the sepal is the tougher, green part on the back of the flower, where it joins the stem. The beautiful sepals of hellebores are tougher than normal petals, so these flowers can last a very long time in a vase if they are cut once they mature–but it’s hard to have that much patience.
Wrestling with a Caterpillar
Those of you who read the last newsletter (I know, it was a while ago!) might remember those little octopus ranunculus corms? Ranunculus are a flower that love a long, cool establishment period. To give them the chill time they require, I had to plant them back in late February!
How was planting possible when there was still snow and ice covering the deeply frozen ground?
We built a small-scale greenhouse called a caterpillar tunnel. The caterpillar tunnel came as a kit of large metal pieces that must be assembled, attached to the ground with rebar, and then covered with plastic. The plan was this: assemble the tunnel, wait for the trapped heat inside it to thaw the ground, then plant!
Things rarely go as planned.
Two days after the tunnel went up we had a severe wind storm with gusts up to 50mph! The high winds caused the ends of the tunnel to collapse, and the plastic was repeatedly punctured. It looked like a scene from a slasher movie!
I shored up the tunnel and added extra wind-bracing pieces. The following week, the plastic blew off entirely–probably a holdover from the first wind storm, which had loosened all the ropes.
Luckily a star team of awesome helpers came and we managed to get the plastic back on the structure to shelter the little ranunculus planted inside. I’m crossing my fingers that all goes well until they bloom in June! Thank you SO much, Brandon, Judy, Cary, Sheila, and Paul!
On a Personal Note…
Sometimes a regular-old-farm-stuff day suddenly becomes a beginning-of-the-rest-of-your-life day! I said yes 🙂
We also went traveling in the past month, to Vietnam and then to Malaysia to celebrate with a dear friend. While we were gone, my amazing friend Nicole kept all the baby plants alive, and encouraged them with kind words to grow up tall and strong. Some of those lil’ sprouts are big enough to go outside this week! Thank you, Nicole 🙂
There are so many things on my April to-do list: starting seeds, taking dahlia cuttings, planting perennials, laying out an irrigation system, sheet-mulching new beds, building a walk-in cooler–I could go on and on. I’ll wrap up this email for now so you, too, can ditch the laptop and head outside to get some long-awaited Spring sunshine.