Optimism in the Garden

March 11th, 2014

Spring is a time of optimism, of renewal, of growth, well, normally. Unless you live in Michigan under the specter of the polar vortex.

This winter has been horrible, absolutely horrible. I normally am not one to get worn down spiritually by the winter, but I have this time. I hate it here, I absolutely hate it. It hasn’t even been a fun winter, where you can go out sledding, or skiing, or building a snow man. It has been too cold even for any of that. We’ve had more days below 0 than above freezing. I’m sure some plants will have perished by the time Spring rolls around, even my dwarf alberta spruces (the key word being Alberta, a place I’m told is colder than Michigan) are showing significant winter burn.

How to plant seeds in early March in Michigan.

How to plant seeds in early March in Michigan.

But I just got back from Florida (yay!) and the vitamin D did me a little good, so I’m feeling more optimistic… so much so that despite the feet of snow still lingering on the ground, I’ve started seeds. No, not outdoors, but indoors in trays. In 6 weeks we won’t be past any frost danger, especially this year unless that god forsaken polar vortex goes away, but I could put out cold hardy plants like kale and spinach and beets, so I’ve planted them, and I even planted tomatoes and peppers too, though they will have to stay indoors longer.

But I hate Michigan weather, and I cannot wait to move, and I am moving. I probably only have one winter left here and I’m moving to Tennessee, wonderful Tennessee, where did you know the appropriate planting time for trees is February? Yes, February, when Michigan is still buried in snow, you can plant trees in Tennessee. So I had some planted. A couple years ago I bought some land, we recently had the home site cleared, and we hope to start construction soon, but I had my contractor go up and plant 14 trees for me. 8 apples, two pears, two plums, and two apricots. This will be my orchard.

My future "orchard" In Tennessee.

My future “orchard” In Tennessee.

I could have waited, and planted trees once I move down there, but I love home grown produce, I love being able to go out and pick an apple or pear, and I’d miss not being able to do that when we move. In my opinion every home should have an apple tree, and I certainly wanted many, but it takes time for them to reach fruit bearing size. So I had them planted now. They won’t bear fruit this year, they won’t bear fruit in 2015, but it is possible they’ll bear fruit in 2016, the first full year we’d live down there. By planting them now I’m getting a head start on that growth and I’ll be without fruit for a shorter period of time. If you’ve been thinking about planting an apple tree or something, stop thinking and just do it, they need time to grow, time you can’t get back if you miss the opportunity. I got all mine from Stark Bros, and if you need one variety, pick a Honeycrisp, but you should do it. If you have a 4′ x 4′ space with sun in your yard, you should have an apple tree. You can buy them dwarf sized, so they’ll never get large (which also makes them easier to harvest from). Carpe diem.

I’m really happy to be moving, in addition to more land so I can plant more trees, I’ll have room for a massive Martha Stewart sized vegetable garden, room for chickens and maybe even pigs or goats, and… dun dun dun… a greenhouse! I cannot wait until I have a greenhouse. Right now I don’t even have a south facing window. Indoor growing or seed starting is difficult. I am restricted to a small ledge by a large east facing window in the kitchen. With a greenhouse (and it’ll be over 300 sq/ft), I get giddy thinking about all the seeds I’ll be able to start, the plants I’ll be able to grow year round. Tennessee also has a much longer growing season than Michigan which means I’ll get more crops in, and all my trees and ornamentals should put on more growth each year, getting bigger faster. Zone 7, so many more plants I can grow in Zone 7 than Zone 5. Maybe even hardy varieties of olive or agave, I can’t wait.

6 Responses to “Optimism in the Garden”

  1. Amy  Says:

    You will love it here in TN. There is a little snow now and then, but nothing like in the North! I already have cold season seeds outside and have started seeds indoors. There are four lovely seasons, and each one is so nice. Well, it gets a bit humid in the summer and if you suffer from allergies the pollen will make you miserable. BUT you can’t beat the fall colors or the great growing opportunities!! Are you going to be in East, Middle, or West TN?

  2. Dorrie  Says:

    I just stumbled across your blog! You will LOVE Tennessee, like Amy said. Even Northeast Tennessee in the summer isn’t too hard to deal with. You still get a little weather in the winter, but nothing lingering like Michigan or Maine!

  3. Noelle  Says:

    It’s been much colder than usual here in Tennessee as well! But I assure you, you will really love and appreciate the lush, fertile Tennessee Valley, and gardening will be fun again! I can’t imagine such a frigid winter up North. We look forward to having you in a few years!

  4. badgerwx  Says:

    Indeed Zone 7 opens a lot of new gardening opportunities. I especially enjoy all the flowering shrubs & trees that make spring spectacular in the mid-atlantic – they almost make up for the disgusting (hot & humid) summers. But we also suffered from the polar vortices this winter & our Zone 7 gardens got to spend multiple days in Zone 5 (temps 20-25 below normal) w/o the benefit of any snow cover protection. I’m waiting to see which of the Zone 6 & 7 rated plants in my garden couldn’t take it & will need to be replaced. A grim reminder that the zones are based on average temperatures & we’re on our own in an extreme year.

  5. Crystal  Says:

    Hi, just a quick comment. I feel the same way about this winter and I live in North Eastern Ontario… was colder and had more snow than I can remember this year. In Canada where I live we don’t get above 0oC weather… but this was ridiculous. Today is the first time I saw the outline of my garden(still buried under snow) here is hoping the summer warms up for a better growing season than I am worried we are going to get.

  6. Native Wildflowers  Says:

    So I have got to ask what part of Tennessee are you moving too. I live in Middle Tennessee on the Cumberland Platuea and its everything you think its gonna be. We have a family owner tree nursery and we were able to dig and ship trees from November all the way thru April. They start blooming around April so it makes it unsafe to dig any later than that. But this is one of the best places in the world for tree lovers. Best wishes to you and your greenhouse. They bring lots of enjoyment.

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