“Is the spring coming?" he said. "What is it like?"...
"It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine...”
When I do not think my own words sufficiently artful in pinpointing the feelings or painting the picture I desire, I do not shy away from adopting some from writers of a more poetic bent. I look up quotes...sometimes to reinforce a phrase half remembered, sometimes to express an essence I can’t quite reach. What is spring? It is yin and yang, the turmoil of the winds rushing now north with warmth and moisture, now howling south with the sleet and chill from lands where spring has not yet ventured.
In greenhouse world, spring work has been plodding along for months on the more or less predictable schedule we set out when the plant orders came in: sorting a load of plugs, filling flats with potting mix, matching the cuttings to the customer, counting, always counting. To describe this process as ‘joyful enthusiasm’ is indeed to imbue our daily tasks with both more orderliness and nonchalance than is detectable in anyone’s attitude! We have productive days and frustrating days, but one week before the equivalent of Hurst Greenery’s Opening Day, the greenhouses are splitting at the seams with a patchwork of texture and color. We humans may be weary, but the burgeoning of spring will not be denied.
Even a mild winter in this hard hearted Continental climate brings weeks of drear and dark and whining winds. The first hint of warming sun melting a heavy frost changes the scent of the land perceptibly. The first rain releases the soil from bondage and pockmarks the most compacted winter walkway with the castings of awakening earthworms.
This afternoon Millie and Blake planted cucumber seeds, plucking one at a time from palm to pot, then covering them conscientiously with just enough potting mix to keep them moist, but not enough to make the new sprout labor to reach the sun. Millie knows all about chicks pecking out of eggs; a seedling is not so different. I planted the first vegetable seeds around Valentine’s Day; these cole crops are already headed to market. The vine crops will sprout within a week; a seedling with no more than two true leaves will give the plant a big advantage over cool soil and the multiple threats of fungus, insect, and fowl.
Watering in early April is still an art. With one eye on the weather and one eye on the sky, we gauge the risk of wilt against the risk of disease. A sunny day, no matter how cold, will make the greenhouses’ coordinated systems of heating and cooling kick in, sending a burst of humidity outdoors in front of the fan blades and clearing the plastic roof of dripping dangerous condensation. The plants are growing exponentially, demanding water, nutrients to fill their sunny hours. These days, we water everything as necessary. Soon we will water every other day and by Mother’s Day, every plant will be mature, transpirating, and, oh so needy. The chilly waters of March will be but a memory.
“The point is that the pleasures of spring are available to everybody, and cost nothing.”Ah! Now we come to the crux of the matter. Indeed! The pleasures of visiting our greenhouse this weekend for the annual Open House are available to everyone and are free, free, free! Come see what we’ve been planting, watering, and caring for since February! We have potted up almost 7000 planters, a total we cannot even believe. We are fitting each additional flat in jigsaw piece by piece. The earliest tomatoes are just about ready for those who feel lucky. By Saturday, the greenhouses will be full to overflowing, not an unusual situation for early April, so, bring your camera, your phone...and kids, too.
Whatever the weather on Saturday, we promise spring inside….
“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”