This year however, I'm listening to the experts and I planted peas on March 3rd. According to the Kansas State Extension, garden peas are best planted just after the soil turns 40º, and I'd seen bulletins indicating the soil was already that warm. Knowing that my main pea problem for years has been poor germination and weather that turns hot far too rapidly in Kansas, I resolved to follow science and cast aside superstition just this once. I whipped out my trusty, long-suffering soil thermometer and plodded to the garden in the midst of a brisk wind yesterday, to find the soil already 45º and rising. I'm pretty sure it was still frozen solid just last week, but I nonetheless planted both 'Little Marvel' and 'Early Perfection'. Besides, this year the full moon was on March 1st, a so-labeled worm moon welcoming earthworms back from their deep underground slumber, and although science may lead me astray from my hallowed farming roots, as long as the moon cycle follows along, I might as well take a chance, right?
So, into the cold ground went the peas. If science is wrong, I've wasted $2.88 and I'll have to replant in late March. But I can hardly do worse than my usual pea harvest. It is a bit strange to be planting peas early this year, particularly because every other indicator I have says that spring will be late. There are no peonies pushing through the crust at all yet, no snow crocus blooming, and the forsythia buds are still tight in contrast to years that I've seen them bloom as early as March 6th.
In other news, despite the northbound gale sweeping across the prairies, I welcomed the 70º temps that accompanied it and I cleared the debris out of the landscape beds in the north-facing front of the house, able to pile dead perennials and leaves and load them up as long as I stayed in the wind shadow of the house. In the process, in a change of temperament, I blessed, just this once, the rabbit that has plagued my garden all winter, The entire front landscaping, under the perennial debris, is covered with rabbit feces, an unexpected beneficial repayment for non-intentionally feeding the long-eared rodent with twigs and bark all winter. The mementos this rabbit left behind are almost worth the bare stems and damaged shrubs.
Last of all, I trimmed my first rose of the season yesterday, this 'Heritage' that so brightens my day with continual bloom and pink elegance. With each careful cut of the pruners, I felt younger, brighter, and more hopeful, winter melting to warm spring in my veins. What a wonderful feeling to feel the dirt and do some good honest labor for a few hours, awakening old muscles and senses to earthy joy.