I planted out some lettuce! It may be a bit too early, but who really cares if it makes it–lettuce is in the ground! Perhaps I’m ahead of myself. Nah. It’s a decently hardy variety, Des Morges Braun from Switzerland, that I’ve hardened off for a week or so. I feel confident that they’re ready for some low temps, and for the next week here it’s supposedly going to be in the 60′s without freezing at night. I think they’ll acclimate nicely. On a whim I also planted out several Reine des Glaces head lettuces in some open spots, without hardening them off at all. Perhaps I’ll see a contrast in the transplant shock. These particular lettuces had some serious-looking root systems that warranted either potting up or planting out, so I chose the latter. Spring has arrived, and I just had to put some plants in the soil to kick off the season. The crocuses are blooming, most of which I planted just this last fall by scattering fist-fulls of them in the front yard in a rather random way. They just turned up in sweet little clusters, looking almost like little fairy footprints meandering from the front door. I love seeing them open during the day. Even if we dive into a cold spell again (which we inevitably will, no matter how hard I may deny it), at least we’ve seen some flowers in bloom. The daffodils are about to burst as well, looking nice and robust: Even the ones swimming in a thick carpet of ivy seem to be doing great. And always a welcome sight in a snow-less garden, the lovely indestructible mache. I harvested a few handfuls today for a salad tomorrow. This stuff is amazing for so many reasons. The shallots are up too! I ended up planting some of our red shallots from last year despite the garlic bloat nematode problem with our garlic. The shallots were grown in a separate bed, and I really think the nematode was a seed-borne problem rather than a soil-borne one. We’ll see. It’s a risk I’m willing to take to have a prolific shallot harvest this year. I also bought a pound of grey shallots to plant for the first time. I read that they have a superior flavor to the red shallot–and you know how I love tasty food–and I also wanted to ensure at least a small harvest in case the red shallots rot in the ground from nematode infestation (and indefinitely contaminate my garden soil). But I’m going to stay optimistic. I typically plant the red shallot bulbs in Fall. Although I couldn’t find any information ensuring their hardiness, I read that the grey shallots don’t keep as well as red shallots; I decided to go ahead and plant them in Fall as well, rather than risk them rotting in storage. I’m happy to report that they are winter hardy up here in Zone 4/5! So to everyone who is curious like I was: grey shallots can withstand the winter (at least down to -12 degrees Fahrenheit) with a thick straw mulch and will come out of dormancy in Spring with the same vigor as the rest of the Allium clan. They do have a wispier appearance than the stocky red shallots. Everything is stirring now. It’s so nice to see new growth. One of my favorite spring flowers is emerging as we speak: the columbine. How uniquely does this plant unfurl?! I love the deep purple color and its ruffly leaves, almost cabbage-y. This early leafy growth might be prettier than the flowers! Well, that’s what’s happening in the garden for now…soon there will be more. Can’t wait.
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