Garden Plants Started for Spring

We are now halfway through our third week of self isolating to keep my at risk husband free of COVID19. We started this when he got out of the hospital after his second stroke March 20. We have been blessed by rapid recovery for him and lovely weather. Today the sky clouded over and the weather people say we are in for three days in intermittent snowfall and freezing rain. Winter doesn’t give up easily at the 51st parallel.

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I have been keeping busy. Gardeners are insane optimists and I have started some bedding plants. The hot and sweet pepper plants are one month old. Tomatoes are two weeks along. I planted green and yellow zucchini today. With luck and some tender loving care, the plants can be put out in the garden around about June when it is safe from frost up here on the 51st parallel. (I hope!) If they can be set out just as they start blooming I should have a good crop.

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I have never had much of a crop of peppers. My neighbour takes a few of my excess plants and she gets fabulous results. She also dumps ash from her wood stove in her garden. Last year she let me take a lot of her ash. Perhaps this year will be better. Also the frost hits just as they begin producing so I am hopeful that by starting them March 1, they will be really big by the time they can go outside.

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In past years, the tomatoes plants have outgrown the indoor space I had. Much as I want to see green again, I forced myself to wait until March 15 to start the tomatoes plants. I grow four types. I plant bush beefsteak for large yummy tomatoes where a single slice can cover an entire hamburger. In spite of their size they don’t produce much because each plant only makes a few big fruit. I plant a “lemon boy” type that give lovely medium sized yellow fruit that are low acid and sweet. I plant a medium red “Early Girl” which, as the name suggests, gives us fresh tomatoes before any other varieties. Finally, I have a very special favourite which is called “Sun Cherry”. This variety grows to huge size and is absolutely laden all over with small cherry sized tomatoes that are a lovely golden orange. These are great not only to eat like candy, but if you freeze them loose on a cookie sheet and bag the frozen tomatoes loose, they make a wonderful addition to soups, sauces and stews without a need to peel or process. All are heritage type so I keep seeds from one year to the next and I always worry about them taking. I am gratified to see all of them took and I had to do a lot of thinning this year.

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I still have my winter greens garden. We live far from stores and getting and keep a supply of fresh lettuce can be problematic. I started some lettuce from seeds last fall and grew the plants under lights. They have done very well for us giving us lots of fresh lettuce for sandwiches and salads. I can harvest the leaves about every ten days to two weeks or so. Last month I took the bottoms of some commercial green onions and planted them in a pot just see what would happen. To my delight we’ve had fresh onion greens for our salads ever since.

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Beyond that, things have been quiet. We spend our days reading and writing. We lie in bed a lot and read together and enjoy each other’s company. The cat often joins us. Every day we go for one long walk with the dog and stop at the post office to pick up our mail. We follow the news about the epidemic and we wait. The news here in Manitoba gets increasingly bad as cases rise and the “wave” already threatens us even though we are far from the peak of the curve. Today we were told that school is out until further notice. All nonessential businesses are to be closed tomorrow and stay closed for two weeks.

I am safe. My fridge is full of good food. My house is warm. Winter is making a comeback but spring will eventually win the days. My husband is still with me and it looks like he might get to see those crocuses I planted in defiance last fall. We checked to see if any of them were evident on our walk today. Nothing yet. Apparently they knew of the coming snowfall.

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