The birdbath is frozen solid and frost covers the lawn, but the sun is shining and the forecast is wonderful: above freezing and no snow or rain for the next five…that’s 5, FIVE fabulous, fantastic, freeze-free days ahead!!!! It’s almost too much to absorb let alone hope for, but here it is. FINALLY! Let us rejoice! By this afternoon, it will be time to plant! Over the last few weeks, whenever the weather would allow, these flats of violas, pansies, miniature snapdragons and calendulas have been gradually hardened-off by moving them outdoors on days when it wasn’t too cold or too windy and back inside the greenhouse at night. Partly cloudy days are best for the first few days, and even then they were only out for 2-4 hours, gradually increasing the amount of time and sunshine daily until they could enjoy a full day. Now they are tough little characters that are ready to go into the potager, even if Mother Nature allows Old Man Winter to pass through our area another time or two. It could happen. Probably will….. Today’s planting will begin with the potager’s two central path edges. As you can see on the left side of the raised bed, the miniature tulips have already emerged. Notice that they are planted about 4″ from the raised bed’s edges so there’s less chance that they will freeze/thaw over the winter as often as if they were right next to the boards. About 2/3 of the bulbs return each year, (a few rot…probably from the over-watering they receive by being near cucumber or melon vines on the trellises; some are nabbed by squirrels that are impossible to keep out of the potager) so I plant new ones each fall just in case. They are too darned cute and would be missed, so why risk it? The result is that in several places, like the spot shown above, there are multiple plants, but that’s fine in my view. In any case, there is room for these violas (and later the marigolds) to form their row between the tulips and the boards. They get planted about 4-5″ apart, leaving room for the marigolds between them that will come later. Each plant gets a pinch of blood meal and a pinch of time-release fertilizer. And, because I’ve learned that plants located right next to the boards tend to dry out quickly, each one gets a pinch of Soil Moist. Violas don’t like it hot and dry, so the Soil Moist helps keep them happy and blooming all season. It requires 370 violas just for the two main path edges, so it takes a while to get them all planted. Once the two main paths are finished, my faorite “Bon Bon”calendulas (shown above) and miniature “Montego Orange Bi-Color” snapdragons will be planted in groupings here and there in the potager’s interior borders since both are edible flowers. They are going to be SO HAPPY to go into the ground. I can almost hear them singing for joy! And, if I still have energy and my back holds out, the “Copperfield” pansies, Liberty Bronze snapdragons and a few of the mini-snaps will go into the containers on the deck and by the front door.
And with that planting done the benches outside the greenhouse will be emptied so a whole new group of flats can be moved out to begin the hardening off process, and another group can move into the greenhouse. That will free up space in the basement, so hundreds more babies can be potted into their own pots. It’s just so exciting! So, I’m enjoying my last leisurely breakfast, lingering over a second cup of tea as I listen to the birds singing outside the windows. In next few days, there will be no waiting for the ice to melt, no dilly-dallying on the computer or grumbling about being stuck indoors. It’s planting time, and I’m giddy with anticipation!
Note: the header photo is from last spring….there are no tulips blooming yet and the daffodils are mostly horizontal from heavy snow and winds. It was too depressing to show them so a happier header was chosen!