It is often difficult to leave your children when going far away on a trip. Often there is remorse, guilt and other emotions that tug on one’s reasoning and the prudence of going away. It is difficult enough to leave my granddaughter Charlotte but it is nothing compared to going away during prime gardening season and entrusting the care of my most precious possessions, my trays of seedlings, to someone else.
The first batch, started in mid-March, has already found its way into my garden and should be ready for harvest in a week or so. Placing them out in early April is usually a good decision but a succession of storms didn’t give them much opportunity to grow. The cold frame where they were placed kept them safe in stasis neither growing or dying beneath repeated coatings of snow.
I expected as much, however, as the hardy greens of Spring—pac-choy, arugula, deer-tongue lettuce, radishes, Swiss chard, romaine— can easily withstand freezing temperatures and the vagaries of the season. But the warming of the last few days has caused them to put on an accelerated growth spurt.
I will need to wait to sample them, later than typical this year.
The other seedlings get set in the ground this month, though in my absence I have made a few changes to my routine. The tomatoes were beginning to crowd each other in the cell packs they were residing in. To hedge my bets, I potted up two-thirds of my seedlings in jiffy pots and planted the rest in the garden. With exception of one evening during my trip, it will be in the 50s and 60s so I am hopeful that the plants will not suffer. It is often the mark of an inexperienced gardener to plant tomatoes in early May in New England. But given my situation, I thought that the chances were good to get a bit of a jump on a season that has been all too inclement. Worse case is that the seedlings fare poorly and I will need to replace them in the next few weeks.
The other seedlings of basil, marigolds, zinnias, cosmos, sunflowers, squash and peppers will stay in their cell packs outside to harden up for planting. They will hopefully be brought into the greenhouse during the evenings if an unforcasted chill descends on our hillside.
But with Juana and I headed for Arizona, south of Tucson, to watch the hummingbird migration, I am trying not to hear the accusations of abandonment that my babies are tossing my way but rather anticipating the incessant hum of a strange and wonderful bird.