Usually by the time May long weekend arrives each spring I’m in garden-panic-mode.
May long weekend is a consistent chronological milestone we tend to use locally as the weekend when a garden can be safely planted as the ground as fully thawed and the risk of spring snow or a killing freeze has largely passed. Any later and the season is too short. Any sooner and one risks losing delicate seedlings to a mid-May reminder that we live in a northerly winter city.
Thanks to the ongoing pandemic sheltering orders, I’ve been spending a lot of time at home, and a lot of my free time in the backyard. The less fun tasks that lead into planting days over that May long weekend — raking, tilling, pruning, weeding, and picking up the accumulated trash — are often time consuming and become a minor blocker between that limited spring time and the patient joys of cultivation.
Yet here I am, after the first week of May, with a raked yard, a tilled bed of soil, a refreshed compost, and garden ready to plant.
Actually, the potatoes and onions have been in the ground for a week. And the garlic that ignored my requests to grow last year has this year emerged in abundance. The berry bushes — raspberries, haskaps, and saskatoons — are leafing out, and my apple tree is promising to show some colour in the next few days.
I started a small batch of more delicate long-season plants in my basement window sill. The tomatoes usually fail from lack of attention, but working from home has allowed me to keep them appropriately watered, lit, and even breezed, a strategy I researched online about simulating wind and outdoor air with a small fan to encourage stronger stems. Those plants still have a couple more weeks of indoor love, but I may start introducing them to the backyard as early as this afternoon.
In other words, as May long weekend sneaks up to startle us all with realization the year is nearly half over and the summer is officially upon us, this year I’m going to surprise her right back and spend it with a carefully planted garden… assuming it doesn’t pull a fast one and rain on us.