There is still plenty of snow on the ground and we are expecting 6-10 inches (15-25 cm) to fall starting late tonight through Wednesday morning. But this last week has seen temperatures a few degrees above freezing, lots of sunshine, and a little bit of snow and ice melt. By the end of this week, in spite of the snowstorm, we might get as warm as 40F (4.5C). That probably doesn’t sound warm to some of you but to us in Minneapolis it means winter is packing up and getting ready to leave. There has also been a subtle change in the air. I don’t know what it is, but there is a shift that has happened that says spring is on the way. This same shift happens at the end of August too. One day I wake up and walk outside and it just feels different and I know fall is on the way and the leaves will begin to change soon. I love being able to feel the seasons change.

I received some of the seeds I ordered in the mail already. The prairie seeds from Prairie Moon Nursery. Coneflowers grow really well in my garden so I thought I would embrace them and widen the variety. I got pale purple coneflower (echinacea pallida), Tennessee coneflower (echinacea tennesseensis), and Bush’s coneflower (echinacea paradoxa). I also got some grass seed, prairie dropseed (sporobpus heterolepis). It is a bunch grass native to short grass mesic prairie. It will add some interest to the little bluestem grass I already have. And they sent a free pack of showy milkweed (asclepias speciosa) seeds.

And the big splurge arrived in the mail too:

greenhouse in a box

Yes, that’s right, a four-tier greenhouse. Well, really it amounts to four shelves with a plastic cover that zips over it, but put this baby out on a sunny corner of the deck and it is perfect for starting seeds in before the ground thaws. Saves us the trouble of grow lights and hardening off and all that. It’s not the greenhouse of my dreams, that would require a many-acred estate, but beggars can’t be choosers.

Even with a greenhouse though it is still too early to start plants when the garden looks like this:

garden under snow

So to get my garden fix, I pulled some books off the shelf. Carrots Love Tomatoes is a useful little book about companion planting. It includes common garden vegetables, herbs, fruits and trees and plants that are beneficial to plant with them and plants that should not be planted together. It goes beyond the generally well known triad of planting corn, pole beans and pumpkin together. I have never done that actually because I’ve never grown corn in my garden. This year though, I’m gonna try it. Along with its usefulness, it is also rather humorous. It was originally published in 1975 and has a recipe for getting rid of freckles.

I also pulled Month-by-Month Gardening in Minnesota off the shelf. This is a very useful book and I am glad I looked through it because I found out I can plant my cool weather veggies two weeks earlier than I thought I could. I am also going to try doing some succession planting this year, something else I have never done before and the book is good enough to tell me, given my first frost date, how late in the season I can plant things. So hopefully I will have two crops of beets, radishes and a few other things.

And because I was in a gardening fever I took Between Gardens: Observations on Gardening, Friendship, and Disability by Carol Graham Chudley and Dorothy Field off my TBR shelf. The wonderful Sylvia sent this to me, we won’t say how long ago, but the book’s time has finally arrived. And besides being about gardening, it is also letters. The disability referenced in the title is chronic fatigue syndrome. It is a beautiful book with the letters between the friends, pieces of Carol Graham Chudley’s diary (she had CFS and died in a tragic accident as the book was close to completion), and garden photos taken by Dorothy Field. I’ve read about forty pages and I am loving the book.

Even though I can’t get out in the garden yet, it’s been a good gardening week and an excellent gardening weekend.

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