Perhaps it was a month ago, lulled into that false sense of security that unexpectedly warm February days create....as well as the sheer excitement that spring brings to gardeners. I jinxed it with a Facebook post saying something like "there are no more frosts in the forecast - this warm weather is going to hold".
Well, was I wrong. From the snow and cold experienced in Asheville, the dusting of white stuff on the kayaks sitting in our back yard (room being made in the garage for soon-to-be transplanted seedlings), the three bone chilling days and nights - it is clear that we had quite a false start. I worry for the fruit growers, because apple, blueberry, strawberry and peach tree blossoms will not do well with the night temperatures we've had. Spring color will now be muted; already our fully resplendent red azalea in our front yard is now a tired brownish color. I guess I will be tempting fate to say that a look ahead that the end of night time frosts may be near....but won't bet on it.
Though the thermometer says mid 40s and there is still a biting breeze, having veggie seedlings hunkered down in the dark garage for too many days makes for unhappy plants. Since the sun is shining brightly, everything is out in the driveway on tables catching the rays. It isn't yet very comfortable in the garage for standing and transplanting, so that will begin tomorrow. Everything looks good, and I suspect the mid April target date for many of the varieties to be ready to be planted or leave home is still on.
My quick weekend trip to Asheville NC was great fun. It was an honor to be asked to teach some workshops at the Organic Growers School that took place this past Friday through Sunday. Saturday and Sunday mornings were spent sharing my tomato stories with wonderful audiences, and in the afternoons I discussed straw bale and container gardening. The venue was wonderful, the school staff helpful, the fellow gardeners and teachers all quite wonderful. It was energizing, exciting - and a bit exhausting (I lost my voice....which Sue thinks is just fine, at least for a couple of days!). I want to express my sincere thanks to all of those who attended my workshops, purchased a book, and enlarged my universe of gardening friends. I particularly enjoyed chats with old friends Pam Dawling, Jeannine Davis... and Ira Wallace of one of my favorite seed companies, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, discussing collaborative possibilities with Carol Koury and Chris Smith of the fine company Sow True Seeds, and finally meeting Richard Boylan, an "internet" friend for years. Last but not least - it was wonderful to be interviewed by Peter Kent and Ashley Epling about Cherokee Purple and my tomato obsession...seems that Cherokee Purple was the variety chosen to be highlighted by the Heritage Food Project of Slow Food Asheville. What an honor!
This coming Saturday, at 10 AM, I will be bringing my tomato talk to SuperSod in Cary, NC. Sadly, it is too early for tomato seedlings to accompany me, but you will leave with a packet or two of seeds, and can purchase a signed copy of my books. I want to thank Shannon Hathaway for the opportunity, and really look forward to Saturday (a warmer day, according to the forecast!).
The following weekend, Sue and I are heading for Norfolk, Virginia for an event there. Things will be coming at me fast and furious from this point on. My future speaking schedule has been adjusted - a few things came off, a new event went on - please check it out here.
That's about it for now - it is transplanting time, gardening time, writing time, speaking event time...keep warm (and keep your seedlings warm), all - see you around!
UNC Asheville campus Sunday morning March 12 just as the sun is rising.