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Yes, it is still winter, undeniably.  Despite these tremendous thaws and the lack of deep snow, Jack Frost is still out-and-about.  Short days and cold temperatures continue to dominate.  And yet…this latest thaw laid bare patches of ground and freed the pungent smell of moist dirt.  And so the itch for spring has landed lightly on my shoulder.

spinach emerging

Inside the cabin we’ve kept alive two kale plants and some cutting celery.  They are perched on a shelf above our rafters, where they can catch both the streaks of sun and the lingering heat from the woodstove.  These plants add a wonderful aliveness and fresh color to our home, not to mention their role as all-natural indicators of just how cold it gets inside (when it’s below freezing inside, the kale begins to droop…).  And best of all: once or twice a week we enjoy a touch of greenery in our meals. 

But with seeds arriving in the mail and thoughts of spring beginning to tease at my mind, the wish to grow something, to have my hands in dirt, and to foster delicate seedlings into robust plants is taking over.  As of this weekend, the nursery has expanded. 

Now the volumes of books also occupying this lofty shelf, plus the antique ice axe and vintage cheese box, have been pushed close to the end-wall in order to accommodate a few extra planters.  We’re starting small, as the indoor temperature can dip towards freezing on these cold nights.  A couple of chard plants, spinach, and more kale – our desire for greens is strong, and these cold-hardy plants are our best bet for germination given the “harsh” conditions of the cabin.  A few herbs, too, are seeded in the name of optimism.  baby spinach 

Each plant has a four- or six-inch pot all to itself – I’m not anticipating these plants to go outdoors anytime soon.  For the cold nights, we have plastic bags to top each plant with, a mini greenhouse of sorts to help these young sprouts develop.  They are carefully watered when there’s no threat of freezing, and set upon the kitchen table for extra sun during the day.  With luck and care, we’ll be eating our first bites just as the gardens outdoors become ready for planting.

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