Early spring, celebrate now | Sow There! March 8, 2019

Spring rain on peach blossoms at the Patrick Ranch this week. (Heather Hacking — Contributed)

March 8, 2019 

It’s spring.

Almonds are in bloom.

My farmer friend Samantha says late variety almonds should be at peak bloom this weekend. Please don’t miss the view. Take an early spring drive.

Bulbs are in bloom.

If it would stop raining, the bees would be busy.

I choose to consider Valentine’s Day as the first day of spring.

Never mind that we had snow just last week or that the rain filled all the buckets in the yard.

If you doubt my logic, take a very slow walk in your neighborhood. Notice that all the weeds growing in the cracks of the sidewalk are blooming and that your lawn is growing an inch each day.

This week, a very kind person at my work reminded me to do something to unwind, feel balanced and feel more like the person I knew before becoming a teacher.

Oh, that’s right. I worked in my yard. I drove to the river. I took drives to upper park each week to see wildflowers.

The afternoon of my pep talk, I plunked the bucket of teacher books on my couch seat and took a long stride outside.

Now I remember … spring weed pulling. This is almost as never-ending as teaching. Once you see one nascent Velcro sprout, you see another. Soon you’re crawling around on all fours, fists of Velcro weed in your hair and half a bucket filled with grabby green waste. Bonus if you come across a snail.

I decided not to spend the last hours of daylight on weeds, and opted to plant some seeds. Then I realized I had left all my seeds in my classroom.

Luckily, I scrounged around in the shed and found a long outdated seed packet for Mesclun lettuce, whatever that is.

The packet said to plant in early spring (which is now, in my opinion). When I looked up Mesclun, I learned this is a hodgepodge of greens best picked when they’re young, originating in Provence. This made me feel so worldly I overlooked the fact that the seeds were varied and looked like bird seed.


I don’t know whether I felt more like myself after getting my boots dirty. However, I did remember a great weed-identifying tip from my previous life.

The best way to know if a plant is a weed is to spend some time outdoors.

Last weekend, I checked in at the Patrick Ranch Museum, where I work when there is a special event. I walked to the chicken coop and to see if there were any owl pellets near the base of the oak tree.

The weeds were awake and growing - cheeseweedcommon groundselchickweed, three-cornered leek and a few other I can identify by sight but not by name.

When you walk in a non-manicured landscape, most of what you see are weeds.

Take photos. Remember them. Yank them when you see them at home.

Another way to warm up to spring is to begin imagining all of the good things to come, like yellow crookneck squash and the smell of honeysuckle in the late afternoon. Yes, the earth is waking up and time for us to close that suitcase of deep winter introspection.

Mesclun lettuce? Only if you’re desperate. If those plants grow in Provence, they’ll melt in Chico by the time we have our Silver Dollar Fair. My plan this weekend is to grab that packet of Tuscan baby Kale seeds and spend more time getting my fingernails good and filthy.

Greenhouse update

Meanwhile, the tomato seeds we planted in the greenhouse at school are sprouting. One of the garden volunteers gave me a great tip about keeping a bucket of water in a semi-warm location. When you’re tending to seedlings, cold water will keep the plants from waking up. If you’re only spritzing the plants, the first water that comes out of the hose will be as cold as the outdoors.

The bucket of water in the greenhouse stays relatively warm.

I’m new at greenhouses, and it feels good to be learning.

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