Dreams of spring

It’s true that every place in the world has its own seasonality. For some reason, many people, when they think of Florida, think that all of Florida is exactly the same, and that there is never a real winter here.

They’re wrong.

Northern parts of the state, while not reaching the epic lows of other places, do have their share of frigid weather (as do other parts of the state – anyone who has ever heard about risks to the citrus crops will understand this is the case). We live with it because our winter is generally blissfully short, and when spring comes, it rapidly passes through like so many birds migrating through on their way to other places: some years, true “spring” weather can be measured in weeks, rather than months as in other places.

Knowing that winter is fleeting and spring just a bit less so is a tad frustrating for those of us impatient to get seed flats started so they can be planted out to take full advantage of the long growing season we have here. Start too early, and the young plants go leggy and bound in their pots, awaiting prime weather. Start too late, and there is no proper spring period to harden them off before summer comes blazing in.

Last year, I started too early, but managed to work with the plants to keep them in shape until they could be safely planted out, and if our season here had not been interrupted by medical issues, I think we could have had quite the bounty. I’m trying not to make that same mistake this year, and forcing myself to wait until February to begin the flats under the lights in the barn. That’s made difficult when the seeds and plants start arriving, mocking the farmer champing at the bit to get moving.

This is the first round of received seed from the massive order I placed: Johnny’s, Burpee, and Territorial. The other day, I received plants from Willis Orchard, just in time for another untropical few days and nights: four types of bamboo, a couple of dogwood trees (“How can you tell a dogwood apart from other trees? By its bark, yuk yuk.”), and some blackberry canes to replace the ones the dogs ran down (long story) and the ones the redneck neighbor killed by spraying some kind of horrible chemical along our common fenceline. I’m still awaiting shipments from Fedco, Bountiful, Shumway, Gurney’s, and Vesey’s, as well as backordered and separately shipping items from the first three through the door. As you might imagine, we’re planning a big year here. There are still some things to complete, like building and filling the final row of frames for the rear garden, and I have almost convinced myself to redo the irrigation lines in all three gardens, but I have no doubt that we’ll be ready when the time comes to plant out the babies as spring makes an appearance at the ranch.

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