Yesterday was a prime garden day. One of those too rare days when the weather is perfect, the schedule open and the motivation on location. Opening our front door, a couple of song-dueling robins opened the early morning. I noted them on our Wildlife Watch checklist along with a couple of other Watch list items and then began a day of work outside.
This year, it's been more difficult than usual to find time to prepare and plant our big vegetable garden. We are, even after yesterday's progress, weeks away from planting the dozens of pepper and tomatos plants that only Saturday night were transplanted into their interim quarters before they will find real soil for their roots in three weeks or so. We potted up over 100 of those little plants as well as dozens of tropical milkweeds-- monarch caterpillar food and brilliant yellow and orange flowers in August.
Much later on this cool Sunday afternoon of a day that included the following; gently extricating a garter snake from a haphazard stack of TREX boards, discovering a cottontail rabbit nest with 5 babies in the annual rye green manure patch I'd just weed-whacked, viewing only our second American painted lady butterfly of the year prospecting our Backyard Habitat for pussytoes plants to lay her eggs upon, we finish preparing the long trench beyond the raspberries and get ready to welcome its seasonal residents; spud starts!
Four varieties of potatoes, each piece sprouting greenish for the bakers and Yukon Golds or red for the remaining two varieties, are carefully placed cut side down and sprouts up in the trench's bottom. Our friend Howard, minutes after appearing at our house via his motorcyle, graciously jumped into action and carefully pulled about four inches of soil over the tallest sprouts. Tonight we'll water them in. In two weeks, we hope to see the first leaves emerging from the twenty foot long row.
Despite the long period until harvesting and the anticipated summer bouts battling the notorious potato beetles, I smile as I think about the time to dig. Finding buried spud treasure reminds me of childhood Easter egg hunts. Or hunting earthworms with my Dad at night. I get a littlel giddy looking ahead for that joy and wonder and anticipation that comes with each plunge of the spading fork as big and small, oval and round spuds and always a few odd ball configurations (Hey, that one's gotta be my first pet parakeet, Pecky, back in high carb configuration as a Red Norland) appear, eyes blinded on the soil surface after months of growing below.
The gardening guide here in the Washington DC metropolitan area suggests that you can get your potato starts in the ground as early as St. Patrick's Day in a normal year. I can't recall ever having one of those however. Usually around April 10 is a good time here to plant just east of the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains. But yesterday's planting was May 6.
I could call this late planting procrastination. I am very good at procrastinating. I have developed it into a high art form. But this morning, after waiting for almost 5 minutes for the auto defroster to clear my windows so I could see where I would be driving over the next hour, I wasn't calling this late entry into potato farming procrastination. It was foresight!