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Saturday, May 29, 2021

Late Season Frosts

Our winter, in my part of the world, was relatively mild. We had a few days that were cold and a few more nights that were bitterly so, but it was nothing like when I was growing up. Back then, we would have whole weeks where the temperatures remained below zero. Your nose couldn't run while you were outside, because the snot would freeze each time you took a breath. Ice would grow so thick on the Bay that motorcycles and cars would race on the ice and in Spring, when the ice shoves would happen the giant blocks and sheets would be feet thick. That thick ice would not be plain white, riddled with long thin crystals, but it would have the azure, turquoise of pale blue sky or the luminance of a marl bottomed lake. Pantone 17-4139 The clarity of the ice being like a vast prisim that transmitted only that one color. This winter, we had ice and a few foolish drivers put their cars through it, but it was stable enough to walk on and do some ice fishing, but the season was cut short by warms days and nights above freezing. Interestingly, maple sap flowed early and for a long season this year, warm days and cold nights seemed to come early and stayed late this year to the delight of many sap collectors however, when that time passed it did so abruptly and we have been having fairly warm evenings for over a month now. So many were led to plant early. This, combined with the resurgence of victory gardes and so many new growers has led many to cove rtheir newly planted sprouts and larger tomato plants with blankets for the recent cold nights.I'm glad that so many new gardeners are coming to learn about the joys of eating food produced in their yard or on th eporches and patios of the world, however the late season frosts are always a concern if you get the urge to plant your seeds or seedlings too early. Many old-timers waited until after the Indy 500 to plant. I don't put anything in the ground until Memorial Day Weekend they would say, as if Mother Nature cared about our calendar. In their defense, they had a family to feed and no money for buying more seeds, so they could not afford to take any chances. I listened intently when I was young to this relatively ancient wisdom. Memorial Day was only 100 years old back then however, my life had been less than a decade, so it seemed ancient to me. I did not realize for many more years that what I was hearing in those words was their conservative nature speaking. They also wanted to avoid the extra work of putting plastic or blankets over their gardens as many old folks do now. Many of my ancestors didn't have extra sheets, blankets or quilts to throw over their rows and rows of tender plants. Even if they had, it would have been too much work covering an area larger than the footprint of their house! What we find when we look into the whole climate issue is that Mother Nature really does bat last and as we destabilize the atmosphere more and more, the planet is constantly seeking to stabilize itself. After all, that is why the wind blows. it moves from high pressure areas to low pressure ones. That is why the seasons follow the relationship of the Earth to the Sun by about six weeks, because it takes that long to heat the atmosphere and the water. That is why the ephemeral plants of spring jump up to grab as much sunlight as they can before the trees leaf out and that is why, if you are going to plant early, you have to invest in blankets or green houses or enough plastic to cover your rows for a few of those late season frosts.We are living through an age so out of balance that we don't care to honor the systems that have existed for generations. We like to eat sprouts instead of waiting until the whole plant matures. Think of it. I like sprouts as much as the next guy, but think, just for a moment. In the case of alfalfa or mung bean, sunflower or radish, all make tasty sprouts, full of life's energy and vigor. The tiny seed combines nothing more than water with its' inherent genetis lust for life and makes ten times as much food for us as we might have been able to get from the unsprouted seed. If we let it mature and express the genetic code fully, we would experience a thousand or perhaps even a million-fold increase in the food value of the plant. We are willing to sacrifice at least a tenfold increase, possibly one of a thousand fold, but boy those sprouts are sure tasty and who has time to let a radish mature? Who has time to wait for a sunflower to set seed? I would like to end this with something Cat Stevens said, many years ago. "Take your time, think a lot, think of everything you've got for you will still be here tomorrow but your dreams may not."

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