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Hope SPRINGS Eternal …

By Robin Mayes, Farm Educator

Spring always holds so much promise. And this spring is no different. Even though we have been experiencing an unprecedented time in history and our lives have all seemed upended, the wildflowers are still popping up and the birds are migrating north. The cold days are slowly outnumbered by warm ones and the April showers fill our rain barrels and replenish our reservoirs.

Many of us have more time than ever this spring to prepare our garden beds and tend to our flower borders as we shelter at home. Every year, I spend many cold, winter hours poring over seed catalogs and daydreaming about digging in the dirt. I always greet spring with a great deal of (usually misplaced) optimism. In my mind, I see myself getting a jump on eradicating the bindweed, cleavers and foxtail in my garden before they even get a foothold. Early in the spring, I envision myself, basket on my arm, floating through my beautifully maintained beds, effortlessly gathering flowers and vegetables to adorn my table on the deck of my perfectly ordered home. Bahaha! Those of you who know me, recognize that as a total daydream! I can usually maintain that fictional storyline until about May 15 when reality sets in and I spend my time rushing to get SOMETHING in the ground that can tolerate heat. I then spend my summer days pulling weeds every chance I get, hoping to get them out before they completely choke whatever I DID manage to get planted.

By this time of year, I am telling myself, “Sure. It is still early enough for potatoes and peas to grow if I get them in the ground today … or maybe tomorrow. By next week, for sure.”

This spring season has been marked with confusion, fear and concerns but one of the benefits has been that many of us are at home more and have a new focus on making our own little piece of the earth our safe haven. We have realized that we can’t always rely on the store to provide us with fresh produce. Many have decided it is time to grow our own. What a fantastic side-effect of this current crisis.

True to form, pandemic or not, I have been scrambling to catch up to the calendar, trying to get some herb plants divided and moved to better spaces and to get cool-loving vegetables into the ground- both at home and at Gallant Farm.

At Gallant Farm, Gabe has built two new raised garden beds and has put 50 pounds of potato seed in the ground in anticipation of helping the local food pantry. Even though we are not open to the public we continue to garden and grow crops and will gather hay so when the day comes when we can welcome you all back to the 1930’s, we will still have a working farm for you to experience.

Interestingly, my winter seed catalog perusing has resulted in two new varieties I am trying this year. I ordered peas and salsify seed from the gardens of Monticello. I am anxious to see how these centuries-old varieties fare here in Delaware, Ohio. Salsify is an interesting vegetable that I am anxious to taste. It is sometimes called ‘oyster plant’ because of its flavor. It is a root vegetable and so was valuable in the past as it was easy to store. My father-in-law always spoke fondly of raising it during the Great Depression. Now I will finally get to try it. IF the foxtail doesn’t get to it before I do!

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