It's still the clash of two seasons here at the herb farm. All the baby seedlings in the basement tell me spring is coming, but winter is still firmly entrenched outside. Of course, when you're growing plants, you're always working ahead--from several weeks to a couple months. But it does make for some incongruous situations. I said as much to John one day. We were trudging through the snow, carrying pots and flats from the shed to the greenhouse. Sometimes, I think I'd go crazy during the winter if I didn't have spring prep work to do. I can always go downstairs, check on the growth of the seedlings, admire the mini-versions of their grown-up selves and sniff some lavender, thyme or oregano. It amazes me that small herb seedlings have the full-fledged fragrance of a mature plant. It's a delightful hint of things to come.
Of course, the flats of seedlings are labelled with variety names, but sometimes I like to quiz myself to see if I can identify the different species when they're so small. Nearly all plants look alike when the first set of leaves emerge, but they soon begin to develop their individual characteristics. So it's easy to compare the fine-textured, blue-green foliage of blue flax to the broad leaves of echinacea. Or to contrast the foliage of snapdragons--green leaves on the light pink variety vs. green-tinged with red on the dark, velvety 'Black Prince'. One day, I was stumped looking at a flat. Then I realized it was a new plant for us--an agastache--and I didn't recognize it because I hadn't grown it before.
We were pretty busy in the shop in February--even with the inclement weather. A number of customers purchased essential oils, containers, base oils and other supplies. So it was project time. When you're stuck inside, or just don't care to go out, it's a great time to experiment or try a project that interests you. It's nice to have a pleasant activity, particularly if you wind up with a useful product, to keep you busy until the weather breaks and outside work can begin.
Speaking of not wanting to go out, Lucy's been funny this winter. Some mornings, she's anxious to get out and we take our regular lap around the entire yard. Other times, she won't budge--lies curled up on the sofa, sound asleep. Luckily, a couple of times were on those brutally cold mornings. She doesn't mind walking on the snow when there's a crust--she's light enough that she won't break through. Of course, I'm trudging along and she gets way ahead of me. She doesn't like as it warms up, the snow begins to melt and she breaks through with every step. It's a workout trudging through the snow--John's talked about getting snowshoes.
The herb shop is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. through March. Keep an eye out for the spring newsletter--will be out in the next couple weeks.