Grow: Kip's Maintenance Blog
March: Preparing for the Warmth to Come
This month, Kip finds inspiration in the transition from winter to spring
March: Time to start getting serious. Salvia farinacea, rudbeckia, vinca, wax begonia and some other slow-to-develop seed-grown annuals need to be sown in flats during the month of March; first crops of lettuce, cabbage and broccoli should be started in the greenhouse by the middle of the month; snap peas can be sown into peat strips by month's end to avoid delays that arise if the seeds are instead planted directly into the garden (snap peas germinate poorly in cold soil); and as soon as the ground thaws, it's a good idea to begin turning under the winter rye that's been holding down the vegetable beds.
Making the yearly transition from indoors to outdoors can be difficult. To help me overcome my inertia, I rely on prompting from my alter ego:
In the Valley
The tinted meadow salves the jaded eye
With lingered touch of light, with downy troves
Of filament the lash of butterfly
Endows the limpid air. In distant groves
The weight of ripened fruit a gravity
Imparts to laughter ringing from the hills,
That very sane and sacred melody
Rejoicing in the yield, igniting stills
From which new spirit flows. The slanted eaves
Let loose the hoarded shadows held in store
For when the sun on seaward journey leaves
Its mooring in the sky and strafes the shore.
To be there — just to be! — is far beyond
The guarantee that's offered. Pardon me
For hoping to return to things I'm fond
Of, craving what with lidded eyes I see.
— C. B. Anderson
Now I'm ready.
There are problems associated with trying to grow a garden that is real, true to nature, and at the same time is suited to television. Though it may seem as if our garden and the tasks we perform in it come to you as fresh as this morning's dew, in fact it is necessary for us to tape our shows two weeks or more before they hit the airwaves. This means that I must often grow two batches of seedlings — one for TV demonstrations, and one for planting at the proper time for our climatic zone. By the way, the finished product you get to watch is often the result of multiple attempts to make it look and sound right — another reason to double up on seedling production.
Over the 20 years I've been gardening for The Victory Garden, it has sometimes been necessary to preserve plantings that were carried out too early in the season. This led to our use of row covers to protect sensitive seedlings from frost. In April I will write more on the topic of row covers, touching especially on the other benefits they provide.
Kip Anderson has been the Victory Garden's head gardener for over 20 years.