There's something so magical about springtime on the farm. There's an expectant hope for sunshine to bring warmer days, seedlings to produce fruit and baby animals to be born. Just when you begin to think that spring won't ever come, Mother Nature gives a gentle reassurance that it's right around the corner.
Frigid temperatures and record snowfall made for an especially brutal winter in Minnesota this year. Out in the country where there are no houses to break the wind, snowdrifts piled up to 6 feet high in some places. This can only mean ungodly amounts of mud as it all melts, but I've gladly exchanged my snow boots for rain boots. The chickens are just as happy as the humans to see the glorious sight of grass. To kick off the loads of work to be done on the property, the boys pruned back the apple trees in hopes of big, juicy apples in the fall. They dropped a couple trees in the lower pasture and stacked the logs to be burnt next winter to heat the house. In preparation for the warmer months, starting our garden was next on the list.
We've been dreaming about our garden for months, so with temperatures on the rise, a trip to Fleet Farm was in order to purchase our supplies. For a person who's never experienced Fleet Farm, my husband would describe it as a place that a man could be stranded and happily live out the rest of his days. They have food, clothing, guns, tackle, lumber, automotive and farm supplies. There's really nothing like it. It's the man's equivalent to Target for women. You go in for hairspray and walk out the door spending $300. Having spent said $300, we could now go home and plant our seedlings.
There's nothing I'd love more than to have Mr. McGregor's garden, but we decided to start small this year because it's the first real garden we've planted in ten years. We'll build a few raised beds and put up a small fence to keep out the chickens and stray rabbits. We'll be growing all the things that we put into our salad; lettuce, carrots, onions, cucumbers, radishes, cabbage, tomatoes and of course, cherry tomatoes. There's nothing like a cherry tomato right off the vine to bring me right back to my childhood. And at the rate we go through watermelon, those are non-negotiable.
I've been saving my eggshells for a little while now, to start my garden. I used the base of the eggshell to grow the seedling. After boiling the shells to disinfect them, I poked a hole in the bottom to allow the water to drain, filled it with potting soil and planted the seed. I stored them right back into an egg carton and placed them by a window where they'll get plenty of sun. I use a spritzer bottle to water them so they don't get water logged. The light mist is enough to wet the soil. When they're ready to be planted into the garden bed, I'll crack the bottom of the shell to allow the roots to grow and plant the whole egg right into the soil. This way, the root system isn't disrupted and the carbon from the eggshell promotes the growth of the plant. I made sure to label each eggshell with a marker so I know what's what when it starts to sprout. I plan to stagger my planting to have a continuous harvest throughout the summer, so in the next couple of weeks, I'll be doing this all over again. What does springtime look like where you live? Will you be planting a garden this spring?