Before the Plunge

What strange weather we’ve been having, more like early April than late February. This past weekend, I saw the first red-winged blackbird of the season, and the daffodils in the farmhouse flowerbeds are poking though the soil. People have asked me what this early warm-up bodes for the coming season, and, honestly, I have no idea. Right now, it sure makes chicken chores easier, and the hens have enjoyed being outside in the fresh air and sunshine these past few days. I know my farmer friends who raise livestock are grateful for this weather, especially the ones who are elbow deep in lambing and farrowing right now. And warm, sunny days mean greenhouses burn less fuel, so that is welcome as well.

But no matter what the weather does, our season is set to begin in earnest when it always does, at the beginning of March — on the sixth, as a matter of fact, when I start in on the greenhouse schedule. Onions, leeks, and shallots are the first crops I’ll seed, followed by parsley and celery a week later. And as the greenhouse ramps up, I’ll start crossing other pre-season tasks off the to-do list: things like making sure I have enough flats and pots for planting and totes and buckets for harvesting, repairing what needs fixed and building what needs made, and deciding what gets planted where and when, and so on. And all these plans and preparations need to be well in hand by the beginning of May, when the madness of spring planting takes up all our time. So right now is a sweet time on the farm, that last quiet moment before the deep breath and long plunge into the cycle of the new season.

Spring Gardening Class Schedule

grow-more-foodI am thankful for the opportunity to once again present a few classes this spring on home gardening, and I would love to see you there! (And if you are interested in my speaking to your organization or institution, please view the “Teaching and Consulting” tab above. Thanks!)

Cool Crops for the Spring Vegetable Garden
Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park
March 9, 6:30-8:00 PM
Fee: $25 FMG members, $33 non-members
Discover crops that can be planted in cool spring weather—such as peas, fava beans, hardy greens, broccoli and kale—and begin enjoying your harvest sooner. Receive tips on soil preparation, frost protection, fertilizing and more!

Tools and Tool Tips from the Pros
West Michigan Nursery and Landscape Association March Garden Day
March 11, Event Registration at 8:00 AM, Breakout Session at 11:45 AM
Fee: $45 in advance, $50 at the door
With Paul Keifer, owner, Specialty Gardens; and Allison Jesky, Irrigation Specialist, Hope College. In this panel discussion three gardening professionals will discuss their ‘go to’ gardening tools and provide tips for sourcing, using, and maintaining.

Beneficial Insects
Grand Rapids Community Seed Exchange
March 18, Seed Exchange 10:00 AM-1:00 PM, Workshops noon-3:00 PM
Fee: $5 suggested donation
Come to exchange seeds with various local farmers, then stay for a series of gardening workshops!

Gardening Basics 1
Baxter Community Center
April 5, 6:00-7:30 PM
Fee: donations appreciated
Designed for the novice gardener, this class will help you set your gardening intention, select an appropriate garden site, understand your growing season and hardiness zone, choose appropriate plants and cultivars, and create an effective garden layout.

Gardening Basics 2
Baxter Community Center
April 12, 6:00-7:30 PM
Fee: donations appreciated
Continuing Gardening Basics 1, this class will present basic practices for soil preparation, seeding and transplanting, watering and fertilizing, weed control, and pest and disease responses, as well as harvesting guidelines.

Beginning Vegetable Gardening
Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park
April 20, 5:00-7:00 PM

Fee: $25 FMG members, $33 non-members
Learn how to successfully grow your own vegetables, whether you have a large yard or small space. Discover why companion plants should be an essential part of your garden. Learn which crops should be started from seeds and which to grow from transplants. Find out the best time to plant outdoors.