Sunday, March 16, 2014

March-ing, March-ing

If this is Wednesday..
...then it must be VanDewetering and Ball Tagawa. And all this before noon.
This is Matt's workload. For one week. This week. Three thousand flats in seven days. One hundred and eight thousand little plants to pick up, put down, tag, water in. It is not quite as big as the national debt, but unlike our fiscal situation, it must be dealt with. This week. It's March.
Just last week, there was room to roam. Just last week, Josh could put up the Little Tykes play house and watch movies inside on his dad's Kindle. Just last week we could leave extra hanging baskets to sit on the ground and grow and put off deciding where we would hang them. Today I thread 75 feet of three quarter inch hose between the lines, but from here on out, we won't rely on my agility; it will be up to the irrigator to keep the seedlings moist.

In greenhouse after greenhouse, the flats ooze toward the door as inexorably as the tide coming in. The great green stream flows from trays of plugs or cuttings plush as carpet, to be counted by 15s, by 18s, by 36s, as the ranks of tags line up across the floor. 

One of the mysteries hidden deep within the psyche of a seed is what makes it "know"when the calendar page turns to March.  Critical growth energy is achieved; tomato seeds that languished for at least a week in the seed room in February sudden shake off their languor and leap from the soil in 5 days or less in the exact same environment.  In February it is three weeks to transplant size; by April, it will be two.  Tomatoes seeded April 1 will be headed to Midwestern gardens before Mother's Day.  The essence of spring condenses, compresses, then uncontrollably erupts in the greenhouse in March after the equinox.

 Tiny, but tough, the little vegetables pack a fragrant punch as we move them from plug tray to pot.  A lucky few are patted in gently by Abbie one day after school.

 The back of the number 10 house presents a prospect of geraniums as far as the eye can see.

 Even though we are anxious for color and applaud their enthusiastic growth,

it is time to fill the pots with good roots.  Blooms now use valuable energy that should be directed to foliage and roots.  There is ample time to grow a good show for April sales. My hands are sticky and orange and smell of the faintly rosy aroma of geraniums as I gather my bouquet of early bloomers.

Not every day is rosy.  Our mechanical aides de camp break down. A broken chain on the bale breaker under the laws of nature occurs when the machine is full of soil mix. Parts are in Tennessee, so Ryan jury rigs a new link while Lee and I scoop pots to the aroma of welded metal and hot peat moss.  It is a warm day with low low humidity; ladies that would ordinarily be transplanting grab a hose and lemonade is made of lemons.

And here it is....the first fruits of the harvest, the first flower sales of Spring 2014.  A Monday afternoon with calm air and mellow weather allows us to load three cartloads of pansies in the trailer for delivery.  

It doesn't happen that often in March.  But like the geese flying overhead these chilly mornings, it is a harbinger....

of all the multitudes to come.

Is it spring yet?

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