When you're a gardener, it's hard to resist the lure of a little warmth and sunshine. No matter how much I know and how long I've lived in Vermont, I still do it almost every year: I plant seeds before it's time. Each time we have unseasonably warm early-spring weather, I'm out there digging and turning the soil and planting things before I should. This year is no exception.
It's most likely too early to put any seeds in the ground in my Northwestern corner of Vermont. We still have two months with danger of frost, and probably at least one more good snowstorm to come. But I did it anyway. I figure what do I have to lose? The cost of a few packets of seeds. $2.49 each, or something like that. So I put in some spinach and some peas -- both like cool weather, and they'll probably be okay. And if they aren't...well, I got some sun and some exercise (and some scratches and soreness and windburn, and really messed up my so-called manicure, but never mind). In the real back-breaking work of the day, I emptied and moved these guys: We compost all year round. (The bins were purchased here. Keen observers will note the slight modification/improvement of the design over the 17 years we've been accumulating these. We sport four different versions in our garden.)
All winter long, we trudge through the snow, up the steep hill to our garden spot, with our accumulated veg and fruit cuttings and eggshells and coffee grounds. No actual composting occurs in the winter when the temperatures are too cold, but we keep on filling them up. I was astonished to see how full the bins were yesterday, from our winter's worth of detritus. All that - bushels of it - didn't go to the landfill. We're only a two-person family, as well. Imagine how much a family of four or five or six would produce.
Emptying the composters in the spring and stirring them up and relayering all the humusy goodness inside warms things up and gets the decomposition moving again for faster results. As a reward, I'll be provided with bushels and bushels of wonderful organic compost with which to feed and mulch my plants at least a couple of times throughout the summer. See the earth in the front of where the compost bins are in the photo, before the grassy bit? That's where they were before I moved them yesterday. Now I have several feet more growing space in front of them. (Later in the summer I will no doubt ask the question: What was I thinking?)
Want to see what's in the background of the spinach packet photo?
Dandelions I planted last year. Yes, I planted them. In my garden. We are avid dandelion-green-eaters in this house, and having them in the garden rather than the lawn makes them a little easier to access and a little cleaner, and allows the leaves to grow longer and more tender and less bitter. I can also keep them growing throughout the entire season. Just keep cutting them off just below the soil line and they keep coming back. Growing them in the shade of other plants actually improves them. My mouth is watering; I can't wait 'til they're ready. Sauteed dandelion greens, in all their cleansing bitterness, is one of the true pleasures of spring. In fact, I'm going to go have some dandelion "coffee" (Dandy Blend) right now.
And on the rock in the back: