Friday, March 20, 2015

Gardeners' Holidays 2015: First Sowing (Even If It's Snowing)

Once again, the weather is not cooperating with the calendar.

Today, March 20, is the vernal equinox, the official start of spring. Google is celebrating the occasion with a Google Doodle of flowers blooming and a little honeybee buzzing among them. However, when I click away from Google to my local weather report, I get a Winter Weather Advisory warning of snow throughout the day, with total accumulations of 3 to 5 inches. As of now, around 10am, the first flakes have only just begun to fall, but if the weather report is to be believed, there's plenty more where that came from.

Reading this put me in a bit of a quandary, because the spring equinox is also the next Gardeners' Holiday in my calendar. Last year, I celebrated it as First Sowing by planting my snow peas, the first crop of the year to be seeded directly into the garden. This year, I was planning to do the same with new Cascadia snap peas, which we selected back in December to take the place of our old Oregon Giant snow peas. The seed packet says to plant these "as soon as ground can be worked" in the spring, but was it really reasonable to try and work ground that could shortly be under three to five inches of snow?

After mulling it over, I decided there was only one way to find out.

My first order of business was to open up the garden and check the soil. If it was still frozen solid, then obviously no planting would be happening today. But no, it was nice and loose and loamy, yielding easily to my experimental prodding with the trowel. So I figured I had nothing to lose by going ahead and putting my peas in. After all, they are snow peas (well, okay, snap peas, but they're in the same family as snow peas), so having a little snow cover shouldn't hurt them. It might even help them stay nice and sheltered while they germinate. All I had to do was get them into the ground before the snow started to pile up.

So, following the instructions on the packet, I made a channel in the dirt with my trowel about 3/4 inch deep, and I dropped the peas in every 2 inches all along the channel. Then I just scooped the dirt back in over them. I didn't even bother watering them: if the forecast is correct, snow mixed with rain throughout the day will take care of that part of the job.

If this works, in a couple of weeks we should start to see the first sprouts of the first plants of the 2015 gardening season. (Assuming, that is, that there aren't still 3 to 5 inches of snow in the way.) And if it doesn't, oh well, I can just replant them; there are plenty more seeds in the packet.

Even though the snow at this point is barely noticeable, I still feel very hardy and intrepid for having braved it to carry out my spring planting as planned. If it's time to plant peas in my garden, then by gum, those peas are getting planted, snow or no snow! Take that, winter!
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