March went out like a lion
Awakin’ up the water in the bay;
Then April cried and stepped aside,
And along came pretty little May! – Rogers and Hammerstein, from Carousel
I have lived in Colorado since 1973, and in Denver since 1975. I have seen countless snowstorms in May, one as recently as last year. The snows are generally very wet and not the kind that paralyze the city. The next day the snow is mostly melted and the green grass is peeking through what’s left. But the nighttime temperatures – even when it doesn’t snow – often get down near freezing. However, it’s the daytime temperatures that get me every time.
The rule of thumb is NO PLANTING BEFORE MOTHERS’ DAY. It’s fine to put in your carrot or radish seeds. Lettuce seeds can withstand cold soil. But don’t be lulled into thinking this time – THIS TIME – it will be different. Even if the temperature is 75 degrees and the sky is blue.
I’ve learned the lesson the hard way. I have spent several hundred dollars on garden plants and put them in the ground on a lovely May afternoon, pre-Mothers’ Day, only to watch a cold snap take them all. So, while I’ve learned my lesson, I still find myself jonesing to put some plants in the ground when the weather is as nice as it’s been the past few days.
After Mass yesterday, Bill stopped at an Ace Hardware near our church. It so happens that this particular Ace Hardware has a fantastic plant nursery attached to it. I told Bill I would wander around the nursery while he got his tool.
Next thing I knew, somehow my cart contained a grape tomato plant, a Roma tomato plant, some Swiss chard, a jalapeno plant, a beautiful basil plant, some radish and carrot seeds, and a partridge in a pear tree. Well, not the partridge (though it looks like our pear tree will bear fruit this year), but the rest is true.
Bill gave me the eye when he caught up with me a bit later. I’m not going to put these in the ground yet, I assured him. Which, of course, will mean that I have to nurture the little devils through the next week or so by taking them out in the morning and bringing them back at night. I think it is safe for me to plant the radishes and the carrots, but the rest will have to wait…..
“I simply can’t not buy garden plants in the spring when the weather gets nice,” I told him. His response? I think that’s a double negative, Miss Smarty Grammar Pants. Well, he didn’t exactly call me Miss Smarty Grammar Pants, and he was, in fact, right. What I meant was I’m incapable of deferring purchase of garden plants until a more appropriate time when the weather is screaming SPRING.
But the other things that I hear screaming are the weeds in our yard. We are back in Denver a bit earlier this year than we have the past couple of years. As a result, while we are not completely ahead of the weeds, we are definitely in a better position than in years past. So I spent Friday pulling weeds, weeds, and more weeds. The disheartening fact of the matter, however, is that when it comes to weeds, there are always more weeds. Despite a morning of weeding and cleaning up last summer’s perennials, the yard still looks, well, weedy……
But perhaps it’s nothing that a little mulch can’t help. And we dangled the idea of paying cash money in front of our grandson Alastair in exchange for a little help next week. He agreed to help his papa buy bags and bags of bark that he will then spread onto our fountain garden and Papa will supervise. Grandkids = Cheap Labor…..
But I did take some time off from outdoor cleanup to watch the Kentucky Derby on Saturday. While I didn’t drink a mint julip, I did have a couple of fingers of a nice bourbon while cheering on my chosen horse, Vino Rosso. I’m glad I didn’t bet our entire fortune as I’m pretty sure he came in dead last….