Monday, January 27, 2014

It Might As Well Be Spring

"I'm as restless as a willow in a windstorm
I'm as jumpy as puppet on a string
I'd say that I had spring fever
But I know it isn't spring...."

Its January.
Which means it must be time to get coverings on the greenhouses that still need new plastic to both survive the gales of March and let the sunshine in to grow the blooms of April.  If there are three still hours we leap into action like firemen responding to the sirens.

Its January.  Time to clean up last year's paperwork and print more for the tax man.  Josh is fetching the 
W-2s as they emerge from the printer.  January is the month we build the scaffolding of spreadsheets that hold the key to the spring's business.

The spreadsheets can't lie, don't fudge....out there in March there will be at least 100,000 little plants a week shipped to our door in boxes that will need to be transplanted during that seven day period before the next multitude arrives.  The season progresses in an inexorable, nearly Biblical progression:  "February has its thousands, but March has its ten thousands".

Takes your breath away.  Gives you nervous chills.  I know that sounds a little over  the top. But that's how it feels.

Just one greenhouse open these days, heaters hissing blue flame, propane rushing out of the tank and steam dissipating futilely into the frigid out of doors.  One greenhouse with HID lights glowing late into the night, fooling 8000 rootless geraniums into thinking March is around the corner.

The earliest pansies with their dainty scalloped leaves arrive nestled against moist pads in their cardboard cartons.  Those most hopeful and fragrant of March posies wear monikers like 'Blueberry Thrill' and 'Fizzy Lemonberry'.  What could be more contagiously springy than those?
The plugs are as dewy and pert as when they were packed in Colorado. We can't say enough good things about Kevin, the driver who usually delivers our FedEx plants.  Unlike other drivers, he never leaves packages on Lee's front porch, my back porch (neither heated, I might add), the middle of the driveway, or the garage.  He sends texts and hands us a calendar each month with his days off.  We always hope he takes his vacations in the fall :) .
The unrooted geraniums cuttings are bagged, tagged, packed to keep cool, not warm.  One batch came from Guatemala and the other from Ethiopia.  Geranium propagation is clearly high risk and rife with potential problems.  Several years back we got a batch of diseased cuttings and had to destroy a number of plants and sanitize the whole house.  The repercussions were widespread and costly for greenhouses over the entire East, South and Midwest.  In other years, rooting stations have come and gone in places like China and Mexico.  We too keep a weather eye on our infant geraniums..
January is too cold, but also too dark for some of the beloved tropicals that find summer porches so hospitable here in the Midwest.  We tried to grow ferns in December and January one year, but they shrunk down into their baskets and sent up nary a frond.  The only thing that grew in those baskets during the dark months were the most opportunistic of nasty greenhouse weeds.  They flourished. We decided not to fight Mother Nature and let our ferns, crotons, and palms spend their Christmas and New Year's down in Florida.

More boxes.  And a family unpacking party.  Everybody joins in.

And that volume of green is sufficient to drive away the blues of winter, the gloom of heating bills and  

bring on the fever for spring...

I haven't seen a crocus or a rosebud
Or a robin on the wing.
But I feel so gay,
In a melancholy way,
That it might as well be spring,
It might as well be spring.
 (from State Fair...Rodgers and Hammerstein)

No comments:

Post a Comment