The first of April brings classic signs of spring in New England: robins and snowdrops . . . and mud.
April Fool's Day or not, I decided today was time to begin planting the seeds of cold-loving plants. The huge snowstorm on the traditional pea-planting date of St. Patrick's Day had scotched the regular schedule. Yes, there are still piles of snow languishing along the margins of parking lots and streets and the bag of composted manure that I bought yesterday was frozen, but it's warming. I'm sure. Definitely.
Yesterday, I dug about 20 pounds of that good manure into the garden bed. Indoors, I began soaking sweet pea "Old Spice" seeds in water in order to soften their casings.
You can also cut the casings with a nail clipper but my surgical skills are not that dependable and any number of patients might be lost during the operation. Here, some soaked seeds have split open.
Today, the seeds were dropped into a shallow furrow along the trellis. They were planted about 1/2" deep, in order for them to have the darkness needed to germinate.
At the lower edge of this picture, a few dark red sprouting stalks of my favorite peony are just visible. Now the race begins: will the sweet peas be able to sprout and scale the trellis before their sunlight is blocked by the burgeoning peony?
Also pulled from the confines of the refrigerator were seeds collected from last summer's larkspur.
This spring, the fall-sown plants that usually survive the winter so well were a mat of dead, brittle foliage. Their sorry remains were torn up, 20 pounds of cow manure and several buckets of compost were dug into the bed, and about 3/4 of the seed was tossed onto the soil. Seeds that are left over will be used to correct the inevitable unequal distribution of plants.
Doesn't look like much now. But, happily, there are months of growing season ahead!